Entertaining Platt: Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt – Live at DPAC

March 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Surprise! For country guys, they kinda rock.

I’d heard of Lyle Lovett, although I probably couldn’t tell the difference between him or k.d. lang.

I thought I’d never heard of John Hiatt.

When I went to see them perform together on March 15, I didn’t expect to enjoy it very much. I gathered that they were mostly country musicians, but I wasn’t familiar with much of their music (if any, in the case of Hiatt – or so I thought).

Instead, it proved to be an excellent introduction to Lovett’s quirky songs and Hiatt’s hey-wait-I-know-that-one revelation tunes.

These two performers took to the stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center, taking chairs on either side of a table loaded with bottled water, acoustic guitars and a scattering of harmonicas on standby. They took turns playing their tunes, including some requests Hiatt picked from among posts on the “Facial Book,” and between songs they bantered and shared stories.

I came away with some new favorite tunes, courtesy of Lovett, and they’ve been added to my iTunes library:

* “If I Had a Boat”
* “Her First Mistake”
* “Fiona”

As I listened to his songs, it occurred to me that Lovett shared something in common with another favorite of mine, but he could do as one guy what the Barenaked Ladies often need a group to accomplish. The tunes are often funny, endearing, and off kilter into a realm of warm oddness that I really enjoy.

At first, I didn’t know much of Hiatt’s work. But then they started playing “Thing Called Love” together. I knew the tune from when Bonnie Raitt performed it years ago. Turns out, it was Hiatt’s tune. And he performed “Have A Little Faith in Me,” which I had heard before on Pandora without checking the browser and assumed it was Joe Cocker singing it. Nope, it’s Hiatt, although his voice is akin to Cocker’s with a touch of Neil Young.

My only complaint about the evening has nothing to do with the entertainment. Instead, it’s a technical issue with the venue. The DPAC has two big video screens above either side of the stage, but something about the cameras, the lighting, or the screens did something scarifying: It made the brown guitars look bloody, and gave the already awkward-looking Lovett a crimson complexion that made him look like Red Skull from Captain America.

The sounds was great, though.

An unexpected surprise for me that night, all told. Pleasant one.

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