Not even a hurricane could keep Lyle Lovett and his Large Band from entertaining Texas audiences this past weekend. Despite a cancellation of a second Austin date and a reschedule of the San Antonio show, this Texas gentleman brought his iconic Texas sound – and pride – to the lone star state.
Lyle & band opened their Majestic Theater show with “San Antonio Girl” and instantly won over the Alamo City. The 13 members of his ensemble were clad in black tailored suits – the female vocalist, Francine Reed in her Sunday best – matching the opulence of the late 1920’s venue. Lovett wasn’t always at center stage for the show however – he shared the spotlight with each member showcasing the broad talent that accompanied him, and what talent that was!
The nearly three-hour set had the audience truly captivated with both lyrical &musical spendor, and just absolute classic showmanship, and every mention of Texas brought a roar of applause. This inherent Texas pride was displayed by both Lovett and the crowd. So much of his music encompasses what it is to truly be a Texan and this sentiment was felt even stronger that weekend in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of the state’s coastal region.
The entrancing delivery of his lyrics presents such believability with the sheer depth of soul that resonates out of each effortless note. That has always been a haunting beauty of this artist’s voice and hearing it live was just mesmerizing. His performance of “Black and Blue” gave the audience their first taste of it for the night and roped them in for remainder of the show. This crooning cowboy isn’t all business during a show, however – he lets loose with occasional quips and witticisms – but always delivered such in a classy manner.
The lovely Francine Reed joined Lyle and the band onstage for a majority of the set, lending her vocal talents in collaboration. Their duet of “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” was her big introduction to the night, complete with a slow dance with Lyle during the instrumental. Although Lyle Lovett headlined the show, due credit and time in the spotlight was respectfully given to each member, and with each solo the absolute enamor that Lovett watched them with proved his reverence for every bit of musicianship that joined him on that stage.
This rescheduled San Antonio date served as the final show for this tour and he took time out in the middle of the set to personally thank every single member of the show by name from each musician to the front of the house, to the tour bus driver. Lyle Lovett professed his gratefulness to share the stage with so many wonderful musicians, and that the band and crew have collectively become an extended family to one another, which was proven in the cohesiveness on stage.
The theme of Texan solidarity was never more apparent than with the reaction that occurred during the first notes of “That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas)” bringing a storm of applause from the crowd before taking more of a subdued turn for “North Dakota.” The absolutely placid response from the audience was notable. Lovett has the talent of evocative storytelling with his songs, penning lyrics of often everyday life occurrences but somehow tapping into such a visceral sense that pulls you in and creates a deeply spiritual experience. The fans were completely motionless, entranced in cowboy wisdom through the equally genuine “South Texas Girl.”
Fiddler, Luke Bulla, featured his talents with a solo performance of “Temperance Reel” off his current album, before Lyle and the band turned out some crowd favorites. The iconic Texas imagery and metaphorical strength in “This Ol’ Porch” seemed fitting with the current “Texas strong” sentiment following the natural disaster that originally postponed this show. Lyle Lovett and the band openly expressed their empathy during the show to everyone affected by Harvey and many of the tunes played that night were cathartic in a sense, reiterating the solidarity of a state and a culture. Another display of strength was Francine Reed’s soulful solo of “Wild Women (Don’t Get the Blues).” She definitely owned the stage and spread the power when James Wilcox and the San Antonio Mass Choir joined in and took the audience to “Church.”
The encore of “You Can’t Resist It” showcased the beauty of the big band experience – getting lost in both the collective and the solos. While a variety of musical genres comprise the sound of Lyle Lovett’s music, there is undoubtedly a thread of unadulterated soulfulness that ties each bit of it together. And there is a special bit of local soul too, one that only Texans understand of their own. A Texas thing that is impossible to explain to a non-native, but certainly something witnessed in this majestic performance of one legendary Texas gentleman. And though this enjoyment came in somber times, it was one to remind us of a pride that will live on forever.
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- San Antonio Girl
- -band solos-
- Black & Blue
- Here I Am
- Stand by your Man
- Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You
- Straighten Up and Fly Right
- Cowboy Man
- My Baby Don’t Tolerate
- I’ve Been to Memphis
- That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas)
- I Know You Know
- North Dakota
- South Texas Girl
- -Luke Bulla solo: Temperance Reel-
- Night’s Lullaby
- This Ol’ Porch
- If I Had a Boat
- She’s No Lady
- What Do You Do/The Glory of Love (duet with Francine Reed)
- -Francine Reed solo: Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues-
- Family Reserve
- You Can’t Resist It