Just a quick rave on the John Hiatt/Lyle Lovett show Friday night. Off the top of my head, I’d say Philly’s Kimmel Center is the second best venue in which I’ve seen a show (Joe Henry at Lincoln Center–playing in front of a huge window with a New York City backdrop–was tops).
Hiatt and Lovett make for a musical odd couple. Lovett’s famously polite, well-mannered, and always impeccably dressed. Hiatt’s gruff and surly. Lovett’s articulate and witty. Hiatt, folksy and wry. They complement one another well. I’d never really pictured them touring together, but it makes some sense. Both are masterful storytellers, fantastic musicians, and they’re probably the two most prolific Americana singer-songwriters of the last quarter century. Case in point: We overheard one dimwit say at a bar after the show that he felt ripped off because, “it seems like those guys are just cover artists, singing other people’s songs.” Which is a little like the guy who says he doesn’t like Shakespeare because it’s full of cliches. Hiatt and Lovett wrote all the songs they played Friday night (with one exception, if memory serves). If you’re not a regular fan of either, the songs probably sounded familiar because other people cover them, particularly Hiatt, whose songs have been made hits by Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton and B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Healy, and Bob Dylan.
Anyway, for most of the show the two sat next to one another with acoustic guitars and traded songs and between-songs banter–with a couple of duets thrown in.