All Hail Lyle Lovett for Lifting Up Lowell

(Web photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Press)

This isn’t a photo from last night’s show at Boarding House Park (The Lowell Summer Music Series), but it will help anyone who missed the so-far show of the year picture what the stage looked like. At one point, Lyle had 15 musicians and singers on stage. I never once thought of Lawrence Welk. I had never seen/heard Lyle Lovett in concert. What was I missing? What I was missing! Where to begin? Wow. Double-wow. The twin dynamos of BHP, Peter Aucella and John Marciano, keep out-doing themselves. For shows in recent years, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band ranks with the appearance of Joan Baez under the French Street pergola for sheer musicianship and performance power. For energy and lift and proliferation of fun, the edge goes to Lyle. The Sun this week reported that his troupe has played in Boston and on Cape Cod, but I can’t believe those shows were better than the one last night. The recording gods should have been at their machines because a live album/cd/download of the show last night in Lowell would be a mega-hit. The band played for more than two hours after a catchy opening set by song-stylist Kat Edmonson, whose voice wraps around standards like “Summertime” as if culturally engineered for them. I can’t remember the names of the players in the “Large Band” or the four fabulous older guys singing on the side, but each of them deserves to have his name etched into the steel of the performance pavilion for history’s sake. People will talk about this concert for years, maybe decades. The temperature was perfect. A searchlight swept across the sky overhead all night for added glamour. Am I too enthusiastic? Sitting there with my wife and some close friends, I was dual-tracking in my head, savoring every well-played note and beautifully sung word while trying to put what was going on in experiential context. Like the labels on science displays in the Exploratorium in San Francisco that ask “What’s going on here?”—I was thinking, This is the essence of art-induced joy. This is why people say they “love” music, and it is not too strong a word. How many people attended the show? More than 2,000 probably. And there were moments when the artists and audience bonded in pleasure that explain why people have been beating on drums and plucking strings and trying to make harmonious sounds together for six million years or so. The show was a tour of American music, from rock and roll to jazz, from country and gospel to the pop songbook, from alt-country to blues and swing and the other variations. We witnessed a unit at its peak. When the lights came back on at the end of the show the grounds buzzed and bubbled with chatter as people folded up blankets and chairs and moved toward the exits. To the organizers and sponsors: “Well done, well done.” To the band-leader and the band: “Forget Cape Cod; come back to Lowell next summer.”

5 Responses to All Hail Lyle Lovett for Lifting Up Lowell

  1. Marianne says:

    That was the best show I have seen at Boardinghouse Park, hands down. I had such a great time last night – so great that my voice is now hoarse and my hands are sore from all of the WOOOOOOing and clapping I did! My absolute favorite part? Lyle and Kat singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!”

  2. Mary Ann says:

    A tremendous performance by Lyle and his Large band! They played 27 songs, if my count is correct — Outstanding show!! Come back to Lowell anytime, Lyle, we loved you.

  3. Mike Flynn says:

    I have been to nearly every show at the Lowell Summer Music Series the last two or three seasons, and there have been several amazing ones, but I can say that I completely agree with this blog post. Stunning show, Mr. Lovett is such a class act (introducing his opening act! and then bringing Kat Edmundson back up for a few more numbers with the whole band!) The musicianship, the diversity of the band’s repertoire, the warmth and humor with which he engaged the audience was all exceptional. I remember being especially moved by his pre-song dedication to our American servicemen and women. He said that the Army’s motto is “Be all that you can be” and suggested that the best way for us here at home to honor the sacrifices, sometimes the ulitimate sacrifice, that those men and women make for us is to also be all that we can be, right here at home…to John Mmarciano, Peter Aucella, the Lowell Festival Foundation and the Lowell National Historic Park, thank you for helping let Lowell, my home, be all that in can be with such a wonderful music series!

  4. Johnb Wooding says:

    Lowell Lovett!

    Just wanted to add my congratulations to all the folks who put on the shows at Boarding House Park. Lyle Lovett was certainly in the top five of all shows I have seen over the years. Great night and great music.

  5. Jim G says:

    Groan. I had this show circled from the moment it was announced. And then last month I found I was going to be out of town the day of the show and there was no way I could get out of that obligation. ‘Scuse me while I go cry now…