Lyle Lovett with John Hiatt
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
March 17

Legendary songwriters Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt thrilled the crowd at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday night with a trip through 30-odd years of exquisitely crafted and well-loved songs. It was just the two men and their guitars, allowing their masterful playing and songwriting to really shine. Lovett took the stage in a kelly green suit, his sartorial nod to the Irish holiday.

Hiatt kicked things off with a rollicking rendition of “Master of Disaster” from his 2005 album of the same name. Lovett answered back with “White Boy Lost In The Blues” from his most recent record, Release Me. Hiatt added perfect harmonies to the song made famous by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, whom he admitted were heroes of his when he was a young musician just starting out. Alluding to their eventual falling out, Hiatt quipped, “They were just a coupla old guys giving each other shit. But maybe they really liked each other. You know how we are,” garnering a belly laugh from Lovett.

The two traded the spotlight for the next two hours, drawing from vast catalogs and graciously responding to requests from the crowd. Between pieces, they swapped stories about song origins, memories of early songs, and trials and tribulations of the road and studio.

Hiatt’s renditions of “Ethylene,” “Train to Birmingham,” and “Crossing Muddy Waters” gave those unfamiliar with him an introduction to his formidable storytelling and guitar abilities. When he agreed to “Seven Little Indians” after a shout-out from an audience member, Lovett leaned forward with obvious respect, saying “That is one of my favorite songs of yours, John.”

The mutual admiration was obvious as Lovett drew from records old and new, including “Sonja,” “Nobody Knows Me Like My Baby,” and “Road to Ensanada.” He described his affection for the songs he chose to cover for his latest record. His own “Girl With the Holiday Smile” drew laughter from the crowd with its opening line, “I met a hooker at the grocery store.” His inimitable wry humor remained apparent on “First Mistake, “Fiona,” and “Bears.” Drawing the loudest applause was his classic, “If I Had a Boat.”

Hiatt rocked his way through “Thunderbird,” “Riding with the King,” and “Tennessee Plates.” His gorgeous ballad “You Got a Real Fine Love” was a standout. Lovett stepped in to trade verses on Hiatt’s “Are You Looking for the Thing Called Love?” with Hiatt thanking Bonnie Raitt for making such a splash with her version of the song.

Hiatt’s encore featured “Have a Little Faith In Me,” a tune covered by many artists through the years but never sung with as much plaintive passion as by Hiatt himself. Lovett closed with the appropriate “Good Bye to Carolina.”

The night was a celebration of two stellar and humble talents who obviously enjoy each other’s songs, company, and friendship.

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