Lyle Lovett at the Greek Theatre – A Lovely Way to Get His Summer Tour Underway

Lyle Lovett is one of a valued handful of touring artists who consistently deliver on the promise of a great concert experience. From the first time I saw him (a few miles away in 1986 at the Roxy Theatre introducing his first and eponymous album) to his recent stop at the Greek Theatre, he has been a delightful live performer.

On prior occasions, he would open with a splash, but the other night he opened with a hush. One of the many tracks assayed from his new album, the show opening “Are We Dancing” is a tender ballad. The song placement affirmed Lovett’s stage confidence, not many artists can get away with opening a show with such a quiet arrangement.

A more traditional opener was his second song, which indeed opens the new album. “Cookin’ at the Continental” is undoubtedly an homage to the Austin club of the same name. It is a brassy instrumental, where each musician gets a brief spotlight. Lovett’s Large Band was in full swing, setting the stage indeed. 

Lovett bounded back onstage thereafter, to get underway with another new track “Pants is Overrated.” He struck a good balance of peppering new songs in the setlist with fan favorites. The latter batch included several of his classics, including “If I Had a Boat,” “She’s No Lady” and the perfect show closer “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas).”

The 14 piece Large Band was tight as a drum, and well-attired. Even the occasional roadie was equivalently attired in suit and tie. Esquire magazine spotted Lovett early in his career as an aficionado of sartorial style.

Standouts in the band included Jeff White (guitar, mandolin) and Luke Bulla (fiddle) who did a great solo on “Temperance Wheel.”

The rhythm section was comprised of consummate veterans: Leland Sklar (5 string bass), all the way from around the corner in Pasadena and Russ Kunkel (drums). The pair have worked together since 1968. 

A measure of Lovett’s appreciation of excellence is that he willing to underwrite such in demand musicians, outfit them in style and hit the road for a staggering number of shows. 

Lovett’s droll between song patter became especially heartfelt as he reflected on becoming a father, introducing the title song of his new album 12th of June. There has probably has not been a better song about birth and death in many decades. 

Lovett will be a road warrior through the summer, and many fortunate folks will be able to see him co-headline with Chris Isaak. The pair may have gotten the idea during one of Covid’s first streaming concerts, where the pair traded jokes and songs to concert-starved fans suffering during the clampdown.

Photos by Michael Wilson.

Tour information here.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.