Icons Lyle Lovett And Shawn Colvin Play Akron's Goodyear Theater
March 23rd, 2018
Make no bones about it, Lyle Lovett is a national treasure. His unique, off-kilter style of songwriting is as quirky as the tall, lanky Texan. He may write love songs, but they're not the generic, syrupy ditties about love lost and found in the Billy Joel tradition. Hell no, he makes a point about the everyday indignities of love in a much more pointed and prosaic way. The closest he may have ever come to a normal, everyday love song was the title tune from the album I Love Everybody, which describes his love for a woman in a much more "normal" way, but, of course in typical Lovett fashion. While he yearns for her beautiful eyelashes, bosoms, or long slender legs, he reminds the listener that it's "her mind" that time can't erase.
And that, of course, is why we love a Lyle Lovett tune.
So, pairing him up with Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin, a Midwesterner, might seem like an odd combination for a stripped-down acoustic evening, right? Well, you'd be dead wrong in that assumption. The two took the Goodyear Theater's stage on Thursday evening and sat down a few feet from each other, immediately striking up a rapport with each other and, by extension, the audience. Their banter was effortless and their senses of humor matched like an old married couple's. Lovett, saying they met at a backstage door at the 1991 Grammys, had no idea who Colvin was. In reply, she said she immediately knew who he was, as Lovett is a "unique-looking kinda guy."
And that he is: His six-foot-something lanky frame, large shock of Edward Scissorhands hair, and over-sized ears make him instantly recognizable. The moment he opens his mouth and starts to sing, you remember what stands out the most: A distinctive singing voice attached to a slow Texan drawl that adds character to the, uh, characters he portrays in is songs.
Colvin, a sixty-something Midwestern-raised chanteuse, came to prominence with her record A Few Small Repairs. She won two Grammys, Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1998 for the single "Sunny Came Home" from that album. She also won a Grammy for 1991's Steady On in the Contemporary Folk Album category.
Playing in a round robin style, each artist performed one of their tunes. In some cases, the other would sing backup vocals. Seeing two artists, sans a backup band, a very simple stage setup, and very basic lighting cues, really encapsulates what the concert-going experience is all about. This was no KISS-style confetti-soaked, strobed-out spectacle; this was two musicians bringing about 800 people into their world. Lovett remarked that it was almost as if they were hanging out in Colvin's basement, and we were all along for the ride. Imagine Olivier at the Old Vic doing Hamlet and you've got a good idea of what this show did for me.
The Goodyear Theater is quickly becoming my favorite venue; the acoustics in the old auditorium are some of the best I've ever experienced. Even the tiniest breaths uttered by the artists can be heard well into the rafters.
Colvin sang her huge hit "Sunny Came Home," but stayed away from more of the mainstream tunes for which she may be recognized. Lovett, who has a catalog that would have made even Prince jealous, pulled out some oldies like "Fiona" and "If I Had A Boat," both of which the crowd thunderously approved.
Towards the end of the two-and-a-half-hour show, the pair thanked the audience for spending some time with them. Judging from the smiles exiting the theater, I think it was the departing crowd that was grateful for their time together. This is one duo who needs to keep touring and, alas, cut a record?
I know I'd buy it.
Review and Photos by Brian M. Lumley