Chicago Theatre Review
Emmylou Harris / Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at Ravinia
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
Opening the show was the legendary Emmylou Harris, known for her amazing voice and famous collaborations. With a career spanning 47 years, she began playing Ravinia in 1980 this being her 8th appearance. She has performed with legendary artists such as Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Denver , The Band, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison and Mark Knopfler to name a few. Emmylou has won 13 Grammys, 3 CMA, (Country Music Association), Female vocalist of the Year in 1980, Vocal Event of the Year for “Trio” with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, 2 ACM (Academy of Country Music) and numerous other awards and accolades. Emmylou played an hourlong acoustic set with her 4 piece band of very talented singers and musicians. They included long time band members Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy. Emmylou’s voice was heavenly, aging with grace and beauty. A great set of true Americana and Roots music. The highlight for me was her rendition of the Neil Young classic “After the Gold Rush”. She was a perfect fit to open for Lyle Lovett.
After a brief intermission, Lyle’s show started with a lively instrumental showcasing His Large Band, everyone donning dark suits and each member taking a brief solo. He then took the stage ripping into the emotional “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord” backed by a complete Gospel choir and the soulful voice of Francine Reed. Lyle’s voice was in top form—bluesy, gritty, smooth and powerful playing his 17th season at Ravinia. After a few more Gospel songs the choir left the stage to a standing ovation. Lyle strapped on his acoustic guitar as we all sat back and enjoyed an evening of great music covering many genres including country, folk, Americana, western, swing, blues, jazz, bluegrass and gospel. Lyle played songs from his long adventurous career with perfection. We were even treated to some of his offbeat comedy and stories of his life. To quote one of his album title’s “It’s not Big, it’s Large” perfectly describes Lyle’s Large Bandcomplete with a great horn section, steel guitar, fiddle, piano and cello. The highlights amongst many were: “She’s no Lady,” “Closing Time,” “ Step Inside This House,” “Road to Ensenada,” “I’m Going to Wait,” “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues” and my personal favorite a beautiful solo rendition of “I’ll Fly Away.” Lyle told us the story of how Emmylou Harris gave him his big break as she joined him on the stage to perform a few songs together. Their voices blended together so heavenly under the stars on a perfect Ravinia night. Lyle was soulful and spot on the whole night. Towards the end of the show he invited the choir back on stage and performed more Gospel songs including the powerful “I’m Going to Wait.”
As the night ended he sincerely thanked the crowd with his warm smile and clearly seemed to enjoy the night as much as we did.
A wonderful evening of music, food and friends at the perfect summer venue. Now that’s hard to beat on a warm Monday night in July!
Reviewed by Terry Giardina
For more information go to www.ravinia.org