Friday, September 05, 2014

Dwight Yoakam packs a punch in Anaheim

Review and photos by Robert Kinsler

Dwight Yoakam and his band performing "Ring of Fire" at City
National Grove of Anaheim on Sept. 4, 2014. Photo: Robert Kinsler
Dwight Yoakam's fast-paced concert at the City National Grove of Anaheim was so satisfying last night, I found myself simply trying to hang on to each musical turn and lyrical phrase so I might somehow make the performance go on a little longer. 

This was one of those unusual nights where I wasn't there to review the concert, but was simply there for the sheer fun of it. I had caught Yoakam before, most recently at Stagecoach in 2013. At that show out in Indio, California, the legendary singer-songwriter was struggling with his voice because of a recent illness and wasn't at his best. Last night (Sept. 4) in Anaheim, Yoakam and his top-notch four-man band were definitely on top of their game and the set couldn't have been better. 

Whether tearing through a rollicking rockabilly-minded cover of the Elvis Presley hit "Little Sister" or Buck Owens' "Act Naturally," the Johnny Horton classic "Guitars, Cadillacs" and timeless originals like "Blame the Vain" and "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere," this was simply a fantastic show where the crowd and artist were in perfect sync. Some of the best songs of the night were gems pulled from Yoakam's most recent studio disc, 2012's 3 Pears. The haunting "Waterfall" and rousing "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" showcased an artist able to explore new ground while fully celebrating traditional country, honky tonk and roots music with a passion that continues to inspire.

Yoakam tended to simply charge from one song to the next, but he did take time to recall his early days living in nearby Long Beach (he noted that he did know that city was technically in Los Angeles County, not here in Orange County, and at another point said the Anaheim-based Los Angeles Angels baseball team should be called the "California Angels"); he also played several early songs he had penned while living in his Long Beach apartment.

The Pikeville, Kentucky native's encore featured an original, fully reworked version of the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire," and his long-time parting shot, a take on the Presley favorite "Suspicious Minds."

Click here to read my review of 3 Pears that appeared on the Music News Nashville site in January 2013. Click here to read George A. Paul's comprehensive full-length review on his Music Minded site of Dwight Yoakam's performance in Anaheim on Sept. 4, 2014.

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