LIVE: Dwight Yoakam @ the Palace Theatre, 10/7/18

Review by Steven Stock

Dwight Yoakam and his excellent backing quartet ranged far and wide during their bravura performance at Albany’s Palace Theatre last month. There was some rock’n’roll: they opened with a rousing rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie,” later tore through Elvis Presley’s “Little Sister” and closed with Elvis’ 1969 hit “Suspicious Minds.” There was a healthy dollop of country, including covers of Lefty Frizzell’s “Always Late (With Your Kisses)” and Johnny Horton’s “Honky Tonk Man.”

And of course there were several nods to Yoakam’s beloved Bakersfield sound, a gritty reaction to Nashville’s syrupy, string-laden ’50s excess, with delightful versions of Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” resting comfortably alongside Buck Owens’ “Streets of Bakersfield” and a medley that grafted Yoakam’s “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Let Me Loose” onto Owens’ “My Heart Skips a Beat” and “Act Naturally.”
Perhaps this sounds like a history lesson, and Yoakam was definitely teaching the flock as he explained how the Bakersfield sound influenced The Beatles, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and eventually The Eagles.

Thankfully Yoakam and his band didn’t treat their repertoire as precious museum pieces – guitarist Eugene Edwards unleashed pithy solos that were as passionate as Yoakam’s vocals, while Jamison Hollister moved from keyboards to fiddle to accordion to lap steel with uncanny ease.

The sound mix was pretty muddy during the first four selections, and crazy loud throughout (as Yoakam seems to prefer – people often mention ears ringing when commenting online about this tour). The volume may have been necessary, as on some songs (particularly the country oldies) a few seemingly tipsy patrons sang along with more enthusiasm than musicality.

Such quibbles faded into insignificance when Yoakam launched into a heartbreaking version of “You’re the One.” In fact, despite the plethora of covers, the evening’s most compelling moments were Yoakam compositions, such as when he followed “The Heart That You Own” with “Things Change.”

Little Queenie
Please, Please Baby
Little Sister
Streets of Bakersfield
The Bottle Let Me Down
I’m a Lonesome Fugitive
Pretty Horses
Then Here Came Monday
I’ll Be Gone
It Won’t Hurt
Can’t You Hear Me Calling?
You’re the One
Medley: Turn It On, Turn It Up, Let Me Loose/My Heart Skips a Beat/Act Naturally
Always Late (With Your Kisses)
The Heart That You Own
Things Change
This Time
Honky Tonk Man
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere
It Only Hurts When I Cry
Little Ways
Guitars, Cadillacs
Fast as You
Suspicious Minds

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