Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Duo: Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt in DC

Last Sunday night, I was lucky enough to witness a concert at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC performed by two of the most accomplished, yet underrated, singer-songwriters working today. Carriers of the Americana torch, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt performed strictly on acoustic guitars, seated next to one another for nearly three hours, with only a break prior to the encore. The evening consisted of one of them playing a song while the other watched on, and then the other would take their turn to perform. On select occasions, John would take a solo or pick up a harmonica, at the encouragement of Lyle, during one of Mr. Lovett's songs.

The two performers took opportunities between each song to chat back and forth candidly about the inspiration for the songs being performed, and also to tune their guitars (which became a running joke throughout the night). Of the two of them, Lyle seemed most interested in doing the talking, many times playing interviewer and coaxing stories from John. Lyle showed off his great sense of humor during these dialogs. During each exchange, he had the crowd rapt on each anecdote and observation he shared because he was just so damn funny. Musically, the show was phenomenal. It exceeded my expectations. Each of these guys have been performing for decades now and they have expansive catalogs of both hits and deep album cuts that are equally of high quality. I spent the night trying to decide who I liked more, and I found myself changing my opinion at numerous times, typically based on who was performing at the time.

John is more raw and soulful in both his singing and guitar work and Lyle is more polished and calculated in his. When they did decide to sing together, the harmonies melded perfectly in that Lyle's sweet tenor soared above and John's smoky baritone covered the low parts. Of all the songs played, I probably recognized one-third of them, mostly from my recent cramming in preparation for the concert, but it didn't matter one bit that the songs were new to me.

One of the highlights of the night was John's playing of 'Riding With The King,' originally written about a dream he had of flying on a plane with Elvis, and his subsequent telling of the story where Eric Clapton called him at his house to ask that he rewrite the song for Clapton and BB King's album, ultimately titled 'Riding With The King'.

Throughout the night, the crowd broke out into loud applause after each and every song performed during the marathon set. Those of us in the audience knew that we were watching something special. We got to enjoy two superstars on the same stage on the same night, performing songs stripped down to their essence, with no distractions. The show was closed out with a duet on the folk standard 'Ain't No More Cane', a song that both artists have recorded on their own albums. The song was also performed by The Band on The Basement Tapes, and on February 16, 2008, Lovett and Hiatt performed the song live at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, New York, along with The Band's Garth Hudson.

Two of the loudest reactions from the crowd, and deservedly so, emerged for their most recognizable hits, Hiatt's 'Thing Called Love' and Lovett's 'If I Had A Boat'. Enjoy them here, courtesy of IMEEM.


Ryan said...

Awesome review from The Weight DC office. Remind me to buy you a beer (and a John Hiatt) CD at the next Weightstaff company picnic.


Anonymous said...

I'm not the world's biggest Lyle Lovett fan, but this is exactly what the weight should be about. Great review, and a good use of space.

also, the Library of Congress concert honoring Paul Simon (from a while back) featured an excellent duet between Myself and Buckweat Zydeco doing a cover of Paul Simon's "that was your mother" off of Graceland.

Have a team of weight staff interns research, and fact check that story, and post any youtube clips of the performance on the weight.

keep up the good work.

L. Lovett

WeightStaff said...

thats weird how Lyle Lovett is not the world's biggest Lyle Lovett fan.

thanks for the positive feedback anyway.


WeightStaff said...

I think that was from Lyle's evil twin brother, Lonnie Lovett

very insightful review though,


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