Jul 26 2011 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
THIS year’s Southern Fried Festival – Perth’s fourth annual celebration of Americana – featured an impressive line-up over three days from Friday to Sunday.
With quality acts in both Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre, the daddy of them all must have been the scintillating two hour-plus non-stop concert hall set by Lyle Lovett and his brilliant five-piece acoustic group.
This reviewer was perhaps the least knowledgeable among the large audience of Lovett and his music, yet I quickly became blown away by the immense talent of this Texan and his ensemble.
The 53-year-old four-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter is probably best known as a country singer, but for me it was his blues numbers and musical arrangements which hit the right spots.
The guy’s stage presence added to the evening’s enjoyment and entertainment: his gift for storytelling, ability to engage with his audience, generosity in pouring praise on his fellow musicians and Perth, and immaculate turn-out (seven country musicians attired in dark suits, collars and ties and not a Stetson in sight was impressive and surprising!).
And it was Lovett’s and the group’s music which was the real class act. Opening song sound imbalance was speedily righted and quickly followed by the first stand-out number – the bluesy and quirky ‘Here I Am’ with weighty words spoken between verses.
The gospel number ‘I Will Rise Up’ shone with honey-sweet vocal harmonies and brilliant arrangements, and waves of jazz flowed through ‘My Baby Don’t Tolerate’.
The musicians’ versatility turned to bluegrass (described by Lovett as “the darker side of country music”), although bluegrass humour was to the fore with Lovett’s hilarious ‘Keep It In Your Pantry’.
While most of the numbers were self-penned, the evening was peppered with excellent covers, including the main set closer, Townes Van Zandt’s ‘White Freight Liner Blues’.
Post-encore, we were wowed by the lovely slow number North Dakota then to conclude, Lovett was happy to again put the spotlight on all the band with his ‘You Can’t Resist It’.
To sum up this Southern Fried stunner: He liked our hall, we liked him and his band, and for two hours and a bit all was good with the world!