Lyle Lovett’s wit and unrivaled songbook thrill a sold-out Capitol Theatre in Clearwater

Don’t be surprised if he has to play a three-night stand next time.

click to enlarge Lyle Lovett’s wit and unrivaled songbook thrill a sold-out Capitol Theatre in Clearwater
Photo by Caesar Carbajal

What better way to spend an ordinary Tuesday night than in the presence of consummate performer Lyle Lovett? To be clear, folks who attended the first of Lovett’s two local, sold-out shows the night prior had a nice diversion from the typical Monday night as well.

Due to high demand, Clearwater’s ornate Bilheimer Capitol Theater played host to the Texas-born, versatile singer-songwriter on two consecutive nights. The always humble, honest and witty Lovett expressed his gratitude to the audience members who filled every possible seat for his second performance several times throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour show full of clever and engaging stories and anecdotes.

Photos of Lyle Lovett playing the second of two-sold out shows at Capitol Theatre in Clearwater.

Dressed in a smart black suit, white shirt and tie, Lovett joined his four-piece acoustic band (dressed identically) after the ensemble got things started with a fine instrumental number. With the stage lights dimmed, Lovett made his way to the center of the darkened stage by the time the lights came back up. 

Kicking off with a sparkling rendition of “Once is Enough” from his 1989 classic Lyle Lovett and His Large Band album, it was instantly clear that the singer was in fine form. His warm, sometimes wry and caustic, understated vocal croon is one of his many trademarks and, meshing with the harmonies his bandmates were adding, his voice sounded better than ever. 

Lovett’s droll, amusing lyrics rank as one of his strong points as does the sincere, deferential way in which he speaks of his musical heroes and mentors. For these and so many other reasons, Lyle Lovett has one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases of any of his contemporaries. 

To instantly kill the notion that Tuesday’s show would be a repeat of the previous night’s performance, Lovett dryly announced early in the night, “For anyone who was here last night, this show is completely different,” which was met with rousing laughter.

Easily and effortlessly shifting gears from bluegrass, to folk, to blues and jazz, Lovett’s arsenal is deep and well-stocked. Benefitting from the skilled and accomplished musicians who shared the stage with him, Lovett’s compositions shone brightly with the aid of a fiddle, standup bass, mandolin and dobro to give them all a warm layer of purity and freshness that is sometimes lost on some of his recordings. 

Only Lyle Lovett could pull off a humorous, cheeky song like “Pants is Overrated” and turn it into a showstopper. Only Lyle Lovett has the ability to make the inevitably hackneyed and sometimes drab band member introduction part of a concert a hilarious foray into his deadpan sense of humor. Add this brand of subtle charisma with one of the most unique and unmistakable voices in the business and one starts to unravel the web of what makes Lovett one of the most well-respected and revered artists across the many genres he’s capable of tackling. 

Name dropping a local haunt he’d visited for breakfast earlier in the day, Clearwater’s Beach Shanty Café, Lovett raved about the sumptuous meal he’d enjoyed at the nearby restaurant then followed it up with a classic Lovett observation: “They say breakfast is important. I just like it. I don’t care if it’s important.” Again, his shrewd delivery elicited laughter from patrons. 

More tender moments came when reflecting on his upbringing. Lovingly describing all the sacrifices his parents made for him while insisting he diligently attend music lessons while growing up, Lovett warmly acknowledged how grateful he was for those selfless actions his mom and dad showed him. 

Similar emotions surfaced when the singer spoke of Texas outlaw country singer Guy Clark whom he referred to as one of his greatest influences and heroes. Paying tribute to the late songwriter and singer, Lovett and his group delivered a heartfelt, solemn take on Clark’s 1976 tune, “Anyhow, I Love You” which proved to be one of the night’s many highlights. 

Ending on a high note, the main set closed with some of Lovett’s best-known and loved compositions: the wistful “If I Had a Boat,” the comical, blues-inspired “She’s No Lady” and the jaunty swing tune, “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)” which all drew hearty applause.

Returning for one encore, a gorgeous version of 1992’s “North Dakota,” Lovett and his stunning band wrapped up the evening and said their goodbyes to the satisfied audience. 

Without the aid of any onstage gimmicks or supercharged amplifiers, Lovett and his acoustic quartet successfully turned in one of the finest performances to grace a local stage in recent years. 

Don’t be surprised if, based on his exquisite shows and his onstage charm, Lyle Lovett is forced to play three shows next time he rolls through town to meet demand.

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About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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