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Lovett, Isaak: just damn good fun

The Greek, Los Angeles, June 18, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

As If the high-quality music Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak performed on a relatively chilly evening wasn't enough, both veteran performers also embellished their sets with plenty of between-song humor. While opener, Lyle Lovett, has a much dryer, more deadpan wit, Isaak worked a touch or sarcasm into his remarks. It added up to an engaging, entertaining night of eclectic, roots-oriented sounds.

The evening kicked off with a choreographed coin toss, complete with a striped referee, to determine which act would perform first. Of course, the large band-ready stage already signaled how Lovett's ensemble would obviously go first. However, this lighthearted beginning foreshadowed a show that would incorporate plenty of levity during this outdoor double bill.

Lovett was far more gabby than usual, probably because he'd held in so much concert patter during the unexpected two-year pandemic intermission. Lovett's limited set (just over an hour) leaned heavily upon his new album "12th of June," including the ode to fatherhood title cut, as well its sillier songs, including "Pants Is Overrated." He ended with "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)," one of the few older songs, and got funky with "Penguins," which was livened by Leland Sklar's soulful bass lines. Sadly, there was no encore.

Isaak packed his set with fine originals and well chosen covers. His first cover was "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)," where he brought Lovett back out to duet on. His huge hit, "Wicked Game," arrived early, song six, and he also sang other favorites, including "Blue Hotel" and "Dancin'." One could not quibble at all with his cover songs, as he performed a lively, keyboard-driven "Ring of Fire," and sat down to do a pretty "Can't Help Falling in Love" during the set's acoustic portion.

Isaak moves a lot, often waving his guitar along with his bassist and lead guitarist. These two sidemen even did a tandem dance step at one point. He noted how his band has been with him, without any personnel changes, for over 30 years – and it shows. These players are solid, consistent and just plain good. Lovett's big, jazzy band is a tough act to follow, but Isaak's players proved to be up to the task.

Critics too often focus on artistic merit (songwriting, musicianship), and sometimes miss the element of pure entertainment. These two acts were just damn fun to watch, from start to finish. It's difficult to imagine anyone leaving this concert disappointed.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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