Sunday, June 24, 2018

Concert Review: The LSD Tour at Starlight Theatre

As my tardy date chatted with attendants at the northwest gate of Starlight Theatre while waiting for me to deliver her ticket on Thursday, a couple members of the venue’s staff confessed that they were stunned that about 4,500 people purchased tickets to hear Dwight Yoakam play for less than an hour.

They didn’t understand that the LSD Tour was far more than the sum of its parts.  While Yoakam is the only bonafide hitmaker in the package, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle are arguably even more culturally significant.  I’ve heard each artist perform multiple times during the past 32 years, but the rare chance to hear them on one evening was too good to pass up (especially when good seats could be secured for the bargain price of $35 at the box office on the day of the show.) 

After a convincing outing by King Leg that a pal and I characterized as sounding like Morrissey covering Roy Orbison, Earle and the Dukes played about 45 minutes of crusty country-rock.  The hard-core troubadour was as irascible as ever.  While he touched on classic original material like “Guitar Town,” “Copperhead Road” and “Transcendental Blues,” a grungy cover of “Hey Joe” provided my favorite moments.

Williams’ appearance was bittersweet.  She’s never been a dynamic performer, but Thursday’s outing was far more awkward than usual.  Sensing that it was the last time I’d see the storied songwriter, I pulled for Williams to overcome her struggles.  A series of perfect guitar solos by Nashville cat Stuart Mathis and the repurposing of “Foolishness” into a potent political rant pushed the set over the top.

Yoakam- along with Marty Stuart the most convincing country traditionalist alive- is the rare performer who can thrill audiences with an uninterrupted string of hits.  That’s probably why he apologized for playing two new songs.  He needn’t have make excuses for “Pretty Horses” and “Then Here Came Monday.”  They were as good as his old favorites.

A chintzy stage set didn’t do any of the musicians justice.  Not only did the ostensibly psychedelic video projections resemble ‘90s-era computer screensavers, the backdrop and lighting rigs were far too small for the Starlight Theatre stage.  Then again, perhaps no stage is capable of containing the outsize talents of Yoakam, Williams and Earle.

I wrote profiles of Nikki Lane and Spoon in advance of their appearances at the Middle of the Map festival.

I recount my experience at a battle of jazz big bands at Plastic Sax.

I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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