The rockabilly crooner delivered his energizing mix of torch and twang
Dwight Yoakam is out on tour with new music for the first time in a while, seven years to be exact, and that gave his concert last night at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City an extra spark. Not that Yoakam has ever needed added motivation to be engaged and dynamic on-stage. With a smokin’ hot band, his characteristic dance moves I like to call the “Dwight shuffle” and by my count 29 songs in an economical two hours, his show was a blast.
He opened with the lively “Take Hold of My Hand” from his terrific new album, 3 Pears, and for the next several hours crossed back and forth from classic hits like the sassy Elvis cover “Little Sister,” to a tribute to his beloved Buck Owens (“Streets of Bakersfield”) and songs from the new album including the odd – and oddly endearing - “Waterfall,” the latter with lyrics about the joys of owning the said natural wonder, including how easy it would be to bath a giraffe, if you happened to own one.
Highlights included the over-the-top honkytonk anthem “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music”) that brought an appreciative roar from the crowd; his take on the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire”; “Pocket of A Clown” and a double dose of new tunes, “3 Pears” and the plaintive “Trying.”
All that was before Yoakam fired it up into roadhouse overdrive for the finish with “Honky Tonk Man,” “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” “It Only Hurts When I Cry,” a spontaneous sing-a-long for “Little Ways,” “Guitars, Cadillac’s” and “Fast As You.”
"When I really decided I wanted to do this, it was during The Highwaymen tour. I was probably about 15; that’s when country became like rock ’n’ roll to me. I remember Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. It was nothing fancy they were doing but it was very hardcore."
Dwight Yoakam ignored the conventions of the “get them back to the tables” casino show. He walked out on the Circus Maximus stage at Caesars and proceeded to put on a two-hour plus show that by my count included over 35 songs.
Yoakam on his new album: "We built the thing in a very organic way, a spontaneous way, which is what pure musical expression is really about.”