It’s hard to go wrong with Lyle Lovett (yes, he’s the ugly one who used to be married to Julia Roberts). His is real country music with a fiddle and upright bass and steel guitar —but with lyrics written to appeal to those who aren’t mentally challenged. You’re not going to hear Toby Keith drop a reference to Wim Wenders in any of his stupid songs.
It’s also hard to go wrong with seeing Lyle Lovett play live — especially when you are sitting on a grassy hill on a mild summer night as the sun sets over the White River just behind the stage. This was one of the first shows at the new downtown venue — the Lawn at White River State Park — and, other than a few glitches, the performance of the place was just as enjoyable as Lovett’s.
Lovett, who joked around between songs all night (he needs a sitcom on cable like Chris Isaak), asked if the crowd were all friends — calling each other to bring matching chairs. The main concern with the Lawn was the music’s volume. The sound quality was good. It just wasn’t loud enough to drown out the yuppies chitchatting between sips from their $6 cans of Heineken.
Lovett’s performance was solid. His resonant, one-of-a-kind voice (sort of Randy Newman meets Hank Williams) was its own twangy instrument as he and the well-dressed band worked through Lovett’s standards like “God Will” and “If I Had a Boat” as well as bluesy numbers like “My Baby Don’t Tolerate” — the title track on his newest album.