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Lovett could not have scripted it any better

Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos, Cal., September 9, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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Cerritos is a fair distance from Hollywood, but Lyle Lovett, who has accumulated a long list of acting credits, sometimes seemed like he was giving a company town performance this night. Maybe it was because Paul Reiser, the "Mad About You" star, introduced Lovett with a funny bit about what some of the man's songs mean (or don't mean). None of this atmosphere mattered much, though, once Lovett and his large - and largely talented - band started playing.

Lovett's band is flexible enough to go from the big band swing of "Straighten Up and Fly Right," to the Texas swing of "That's Right (You're Not from Texas)" to "Church" and its gospel groove, without ever beginning to sound out of its element.

Yes, Lovett has steel guitar and fiddle in his band, but he also a cellist, a four-piece horn section and a top tier gospel singer in Francine Reed. Lovett may be the bandleader, but he gives his players plenty of time to stretch out and show off their stuff.

Although not a big man with words, Lovett talked more than usual tonight. He took a long time to introduce his band members and spoke with them as though they're family, not just a backing group. Lovett's best conversations came through his songs, though. He can be introspective, exemplified by "North Dakota," philosophical ("If I Had A Boat") and observationally funny ("Penguins").

Lovett played for over two hours and, judging by the audience response, could have continued playing much longer. In today's high-tech music scene, where so many performances are programmed and formulaic, it was refreshing to witness and old-fashioned entertaining show. Lovett sang, joked and even did a little dance during "Penguins."

All night, Lovett never looked or sounded distracted, as though the prior show or an upcoming concert was occupying his mind. He was truly in the moment. Lyle Lovett was born to play the witty and literate band leader. He couldn't have scripted it any better.