Dwight Right In Melbourne,
Australia - Dwight Yoakam Concert Review By: George
Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
must have felt like a thousand miles from nowhere – Down
Under and with a not-tried-often fan base -- when Dwight and
band took the stage in Melbourne, Australia recently. He need
not have worried. He was in welcomed company. With the 2000
that crowded into the Palais Theatre, St.Kilda, Melbourne,
Australia for the first of his two shows – the same place he
appeared on his Gone tour in ’95 -- he wouldn’t be
that lonely yet.
After a delayed
start, the lights dimmed on the stage, bare except for a black
backdrop of projected flames, the band’s instrumentation and
four low hung lights. First out was Eddie Perez. He sauntered
on, flicked his mane, waved and plugged in and amped up. The
roar intensified as the other band members moved into
position. Then as the late show start was forgiven and
forgotten, He appeared.
Dwight. The guy
who walked the streets of Bakersfield with legendary Buck was
before us. The iconic hat hid the star from the overhead
spotlights and shaded the eyes of one of country music’s
most photographed. The created shadow only added to the aura.
With a tailored marron suit (with trousers ironed so sharp
they could axe a tree), and white boots and a held high
guitar, Yoakam looked the country superstar we knew him to be.
With the band in tow, the show kicked to life. Dwight bounced,
heeled, ducked, raised a menacing leg and circled; all the
while creating a felt energy that delighted the front rows and
energized the back stalls. He won the crowd, and he won them
early. Ten years away was too long and the baby boomer
audience – those who sing rather than scream -- let him know
in rowdy approval he was a returning hero.
A couple of
tunes in, Dwight moved beyond the “thank you, thank you”
for knowing the tune to what was to be one of several
appreciations from the stage. The globetrotter with 20 acting
credits in his resume thanked the loyal for snapping up the
concert tickets early. “I’m gonna try to get back here
more often,” he told the crowd. Tonight’s “sold out”
sign on the outside hoarding proved the need to return:
absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Yoakam shunt and swagger the last time he hit town, I
wondered: could the good get better? The last tour had
Pete Anderson in the band. Anderson may be gone, but all’s
well in the camp, thanks to Eddie Perez.
And that brings
us to the band.
arrived honed and fired, courtesy of a long tour which started
in February. They have toured America, Canada, England, and
now Australia. It’s a lot of band practice. And it’s
served Eddie Perez well. While Dwight cavorted, Perez
played… like a guitar god. Perez, a former Maverick, played
mostly note perfect, all the while doing guitar and mandolin
exchanges with a to-the-side technician. Perez is a showman.
He bobbed, strutted, stood spread-eagled and at times
throttled the notes out of his five onstage guitars. The guy
can play. He makes it look exciting –he’s not one of those
who stand in the shadows, marking time; rather, he’s
energetic, out front and pumping. Dwight was right when he
said he was lucky to be travelling with such guys. Mitch
Marine, a well respected drummer, was thumpingly consistent,
while elegantly suited bassist, Kevin Smith, got a stage nod
for keeping it together during Dwight’s mentioned onstage
“schizophrenia”, andJoshua Grange the
band’s percussionist, tambourine, steel guitar and banjo
plucker kept it, well, active.
times said he was grateful the crowd had remembered him. He
rewarded the loyalty with over two hours (a rumored 41 songs)
of hits, memories and a few that didn’t make Billboard, but
after hearing them again, maybe should have. Running the
catalogue from Guitars, Cadillac’s, Dwight’s
stellar debut, through to the modern Blame The Vain, Yoakum
had the momentum primed with a pleasing mix of ballad and hard
edged twang. He also balanced the night with tributes to
long-held heroes: Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.
Dwight we’ve missed you. Come
back. And make it soon.
Dwight Yoakam's reissued
1986 debut, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., is out now.