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Review: Loretta Lynn at Bass Hall

Posted 12:22am on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014

For all the accolades and accomplishments, Loretta Lynn is still human.

The country legend, seated on the Bass Hall stage, copped to having fallen from her bus prior to arriving on stage Saturday, momentarily leaving her in a well-dressed heap on the sidewalk outside the downtown venue — far from an elegant entrance.

“I didn’t hurt myself,” chirped the 82-year-old vocalist, “but I’m sure [the bystanders] got some pictures.”

As the near-capacity crowd chuckled appreciatively, Lynn seemed more annoyed than injured. Despite performing every song but two sitting down, she still managed to deliver a sparkling performance with more brio than many artists a quarter of her age can muster.

Even something as simple as a stumble isn’t enough to rattle the Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Her roughly hour-long set, backed by the eight-piece Coal Miners, incorporated plenty of favorites (from Fist City and The Pill to Lead Me On and When the Tingle Becomes a Chill) — although, strangely, her Jack White-produced “comeback” LP Van Lear Rose was all but ignored until late in the evening — and had the audience shouting requests throughout the night.

Watching Lynn run through tunes she’s performed countless times over her 50-plus years in the music business, her left hand almost conducting her Coal Miners behind her back, was riveting — the sight of a Nashville legend, still plying her trade into her ninth decade was underscored by a line from the night’s opening number: “They don’t make ‘em like my Daddy anymore.”

Lynn is a breed apart herself, one of the last truly iconic talents cultivated during an era in Music City when the men and women making music seemed to spin gold from misery and hardscrabble lives, becoming — somewhat paradoxically — gods who walked among us, relatable souls taking on the dimensions of mythic beings over time.

Yet, these classic country acts loved and hurt and hated and drank and envied just like everyone does — falling prey to those most human of qualities, laying bare their frailties in song.

Even if it takes a tumble to remind us that, yes, the legendary Loretta Lynn is only mortal, it’s also heartening music fans — and Saturday’s appreciative audience — are still able to share with her just how much she means to them.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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