Lyle Lovett, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, August 2nd

August 4, 2007

Lyle Lovett I can pinpoint the precise moment at which I became a Lyle Lovett fan. It was about 20 seconds into If I Had A Boat, track 9 on the Cowboy Man anthology I’d picked up on spec. He sang, and I quote: “If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean/ and if I had a pony, I’d ride it… on my boat.”

So, when he showed up in Bozeman a year or so later, TCB and I stumped up the $40 each for the cheapest tickets in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. It is a sign of how much Bozeman has spoilt me that $40 seems like an awful lot for a concert, whereas in Britain I’d think little to nothing of spending 20 quid on a band I’d never heard of. The Fieldhouse is designed to be a basketball arena (oddly, it was the venue of America’s first-ever indoor baseball game, in the late 50s) and the acoustics suffer accordingly.

Lyle Lovett, however, has a large enough band that they could easily play two pick-up games and still have subs – or at least, it would be easy if there weren’t a thousand or so expectant fans seated on the court. So with much regret, they changed from their basketball uniforms into sharp suits and played some music instead.

Lovett is, even compared to the funny-looking guys I have reviewed in the past, a funny-looking guy. His lop-sided face and unruly hair are at odds with the immaculate coiffures and posh frocks of his band, possibly the tightest beat combo I’ve ever seen.

They make a mockery of the idea that Lovett belongs on the country shelf of your local record emporium. It’s true, he’s from Texas and sings some twangy songs, but even the first handful of numbers in this gig could see him placed just as squarely in blues, jazz, gospel, folk, rock and possibly many more. He digresses into bluegrass (“The dark side of country music”) with the amusing Keep It In Your Pantry before casually walking away from the mic he’s sharing with a mandolin player, a fiddler and a bassist to introduce his horn section and add Motown to his genre list.

It has frequently been said that my heroes are almost all whiny old men with guitars, a style (perhaps whiny aside) that he does fall into quite comfortably. He chats for minutes at a time between songs: where many rock singers would be happy if they could remember the names of their three band-mates, Lovett has instant recall of each of his supporters’ names, home towns, previous solo albums, location and date they met, occupation of parents and probably what they had for breakfast this day last year. At one point he shows that he can do the same thing with some members of the audience too. It made me nervous, the man’s a walking FBI.

Sooo… highlights? If I Had A Boat, of course – one of the perils of only owning one CD of the artist you’re watching is that he might not play one of your few favourites, but I needn’t have worried. A song about getting out of bad situations and doing something ridiculous that you enjoy; I can’t think of anyone who’d argue with that. That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas rocked out, and I was pretty taken with the opening number, Traveling Around Is Going To Be The Death Of Me. Comedy points would have to go to That Ain’t No Lady, That’s My Wife.

On one hand, I’d love to see this show in a smaller, cheaper venue. On the other, by the time you’d crammed the band into the Leaf and Bean, you wouldn’t have any room for an audience (or if you did, it would bring a new meaning to the phrase ‘an intimate venue’). In Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, the narrator describes a rock star his infatuation Marie Lasalle has slept with as ‘about as famous as Lyle Lovett’. It beats me why Lovett isn’t more famous still.

Anthology, Vol. 1: Cowboy Man


3 Responses to “Lyle Lovett, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, August 2nd”

  1. philip wagner Says:

    I have GOT to find out who wrote Keep it in Your Pantry. My whole family is asking me who wrote it. I know Lyle recorded it. Does anyone know the author of these great lyrics?

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