Lyle Lovett Does New Orleans

I’ve seen Lyle Lovett several times before and own most of his albums, but I’d never seen him in a theatre. It’s an entirely different experience than seeing him at Jazz Fest. No surprise there.

The Orpheum Theatre began life as a vaudeville house. As a result, it’s simultaneously large and intimate. We sprung for orchestra tickets because the concert was part of my birthday season. It was worth it. We were near the back BUT it still felt as if we could reach out and touch Lyle and his Large Band.

The Large Band comes in multiple iterations and has a floating lineup. We saw the full-tilt 15 piece unit. As the album title goes, It’s Not Big, It’s  Large.

We were fortunate to see the ultimate rhythm section of Russ Kunkel on drums and Leland Sklar on bass. I’m not certain if Leland wore a tie like the rest of the band because his beard is so damn long. The man can really play, so who cares?

Here’s Leland and his beard:

I went expecting great music and witty stage patter but came away with so much more. Lyle has some fascinating people in his band. Lyle played chat show host and interviewed some of his bandmates. There were many tales of New Orleans including pianist Jim Cox’s story about working with Dr. John. He did a decent impression of his fellow piano man.

Lyle told the story of playing a benefit show in New York that annually honors a different songwriter. This year, it was Paul McCartney. At the benefit concert, Lyle joined Peter Asher on stage to sing this Macca tune written for Peter &  Gordon, A World Without Love:

At the Orpheum show, Jim Cox sang A World Without Love with Lyle. So, we’ve gone from Peter & Gordon to Peter & Lyle to Jim & Lyle. The mind reels.

I don’t follow the private lives of artists I admire, so I didn’t realize that Lyle had a late in life family complete with twins. He described dressing them in the intro to Pants Is Overrated:

The Large Band literally bursts with talent and they were on fire last Thursday night. As a bandleader, Lyle creates a familial atmosphere making you feel like kin for the night. Corny but true.

One of Lyle’s best stories was about the Lovett family cemetery in Texas. It was founded by an ancestor in 1853. Lyle joked about the eligibility requirements, then launched into this lovely tune about family graveyard gatherings and the birth of his twins:

I dig cemeteries too. I also dig Lyle’s connection to his Texas roots. Lyle Lovett is proof positive that there’s more to Texas than its wingnutty politics.

It was a long show, but I loved every minute. In typical New Orleans fashion, we ran into a bunch of people we know including Greg and Cathy two of my favorite Krewe du Vieux types. They’re not Spankers, they’re Drips.

I plan to become a Lyle Lovett theatre concert regular. It’s like a visit with beloved relatives. See y’all next time.

A note to Lyle: You and John Hiatt need to do one of your songwriters shows here in New Orleans.

Grading Time: I give Lyle Lovett and his Large Band 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A. Thanks for the memorable night, y’all.

The last word goes to Lyle Lovett with the nicest break up song in music history:


One thought on “Lyle Lovett Does New Orleans

  1. That’s my favorite Lyle album. This song, the much more intense breakup song “It Ought to Be Easier” which is an epic, the title track, and the hidden song are among my all-time favorites of his.

Comments are closed.