Lyle Lovett with Shawn Colvin

Date and Venue 24 July 2008 @ 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Reviewer Susan Peake

A full evening of magnificent musical magic was the reward for those who chose to take in the Lyle Lovett concert at The Orpheum last night. Three and half hours after the show began, the smiling audience spilled out onto the street exceedingly satisfied.

Shawn Colvin, a captivating Grammy winner, opened for Lovett. She mesmerized us for the first forty-five minutes of the evening with both her crisp vocals and her accomplished guitar playing. She made it clear to the audience that opening for Lovett was an honour for her and that the best part about it was that she could watch him perform. Their friendship goes back a long way, and Lovett has collaborated with Shawn on past albums.

In her pop-folk-rock style, Colvin included "Riding Shotgun down the Avalanche," "Trouble," "These Four Walls" and "Crazy" in her set, and the audience showed their appreciation with enthusiastic hoots and hollers.

The Large Band then took the stage and several of the expert musicians treated us to a mini-solo: keyboard, fiddle, electric and slide guitar were a few that were featured, and there was no denying that we were about to enjoy a first rate musical experience.

Lovett then entered, along with a choral group (from Seattle) and his often present, supplemental vocal trio. A glorious gospel hymn launched the set that later propelled the audience into a Lovett world of country, folk, jazz, rock and blue grass styles. Several songs came from his 2001 Anthology Volume 1 – Cowboy Man, including "If I were the Man you Wanted," "San Antonio Girl" and "If I Had a Boat." Also featured in the repertoire, "This Old Porch," co-written with Robert Earl Keen, from Lovett’s first album back in 1986. "Don’t Cry a Tear," with its haunting melody, was beautifully performed from his latest CD, It’s Not Big, It’s Large.

What was, for me, a pleasant surprise was to discover that Lovett not only breaks off into many humorous story-telling bits between songs, but also precipitates hilarious exchanges with band members, particularly his cello player. You definitely get the feeling that the band is one big happy family, and, fortunately, the audience feels included.

Upon one of his reflections, he described a time many years ago when he and his band played the Commodore – in the days when the floor did some serious wobbling.

Lovett has a heart-felt respect and appreciation for his fellow band members, some of whom go back well over thirty years. Most are Texans who have their own musical careers, but they take a hiatus so that they can hit the road with him for three months of the year.

He and his band, in their unique style, do what they love, and they do it with perfection.

© 2008 Susan Peake