Driving home yesterday afternoon I was surprised to catch one of my favorite songs on the radio — John Hiatt’s “Feels Like Rain.” It’s a bluesy, moody, New Orleans tinged love song that combines vulnerability and manliness in a breathtaking cominbination. Whenever you feel that it can’t be possible for someone to find a new way to say something old and true in a beautiful song, along comes an inspirational artist like Hiatt (second from the left in the collage above) to burn the house down. And burn down the house he did last night at the State Theater in Minneapolis, stealing the show from his fellow performers (from left to right in the collage) Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, and Joe Ely with whom he’s touring in a songwriters’ showcase.
Lovett did most of the talking, warmly praising his colleagues as his songwriting heroes, as in this Capital Times article previewing the shows in Wausau tonight and in Milwaukee on Thursday. For a look back at the show in Hiatt’s hometown on Sunday night, see this Indystar.com review by David Lindquist, and for a look at the show in Minneapolis last night, see this review by Jon Bream.
Hiatt’s wife of twenty years introduced the show last night. I thought that Hiatt seemed to rise to the occasion with his moving tribute to her in his self-deprecating “Real Fine Love,” a song that is frankly autobiographical: “I’ve seen an angel or two before,” he sings, “but I’ve never asked one to be my wife.” With where he went in “Real Fine Love” Hiatt seemed to me to go about as far as you can go in a pop song, as he did also in “Crossing Muddy Waters,” “Icy Blue Heart,” “Master of Disaster,” and “Memphis in the Meantime.”
In his opening remarks Clark said that they weren’t playing from a set list, but rather playing the songs that moved them as the show develops. I didn’t believe it, but looking at the songs noted in the Indystar review, “Real Fine Love” and Lovett’s version of Clark’s “Step Inside This House” are the only repeats I see. If you’re a fan of the craft of songwriting or of singer songwriters, it’s a show not to be missed.
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