Dallas The ticket stub promised "A Night to Remember" and, of course, Lyle Lovett was only too happy to oblige.
Lovett and His Large Band were the featured entertainment for CitySquare's 12th annual benefit concert Friday night at the Majestic Theatre, which raised more than $500,000, according to organizers (that total was achieved with a little help from a dramatic, pre-show auction that saw a pair of Lovett-autographed acoustic guitars fetch $25,000 apiece).
The fireworks continued, as Lovett and his coterie of collaborators took the stage for a two-hour set full of indelible highs and pockets of pure beauty. The group has been on tour throughout the summer, and moreso than in the past, Lovett showcased his talented friends by having them perform songs of their own (vocalist Arnold McCuller was stunning on his Gods and Monsters, as was fiddler Luke Bulla, guitarist/vocalist Sean Watkins and mandolin maestro Keith Sewell on their material). Lovett, often chipping in on harmony vocals or a bit of backing guitar, beamed like a proud papa during each showcase.
But there was plenty to cherish during Lovett's own songs, as well, particularly the little shuffle step everyone performed during Penguins, and the searing covers of Buddy Holly (Well All Right) and Chuck Berry (Brown Eyed Handsome Man), proving his sound remains joyfully boundless. His last couple times through North Texas, Lovett has been either partnered with another solo guitarist, or touring with a stripped-down version of the Large Band. It's startling to be reminded just how much power and force (and, strikingly, nuance) the collective can bring to Lovett's music: the thunderous I Will Rise Up, particularly in the Majestic's perfect acoustics, felt like Armageddon was nigh.
The droll asides -- an wry observation about how Dallas and Houston are growing ever closer in proximity elicited roars of laughter -- coupled with Lovett's inimitable way with a melody and lyrics made for a magical experience inside one of Dallas' most prized concert spaces. It was, in the end, an evening exactly as advertised.