Lyle Lovett Excites Profligate Heedlessness in God-Fearing Crowd

Closing his eyes to the wanton desecration of his pulpit by flying panties. Photo: Ryan Muir

“That was the first time a Lutheran has made an exclamatory remark,” Lyle Lovett drily observed at the Beacon Theatre last night, after a woman in the audience loosed a howl of approval during his recounting of growing up in that church. As he weathered on about his childhood Sunday rituals, another shout filled the air. “You must have converted to the Baptist Church!” he replied. Such was the spirit, and Lovett's easy charm, during this gospel-heavy two-and-a-half-hour set, which was supported by a ten-person choir known as Junior Fountain and God’s Generation. Inspirational opener “Church” had the bowlegged Lovett standing, clapping, and raising his hands to the ceiling; later, he entered darker blues territory with “Rise Up/Ain’t No More Cane,” climbing registers over the course of seven minutes. But Lovett didn’t forget about the agnostics in the audience: He ditched the soul-mongering midway through the evening, easing into laid-back country fare with oldies like “Cute As a Bug” and “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas).” Lovett’s even delivery and twinkle-eyed sense of irony made the transition a remarkably smooth one. It was, however, Sunday, so the preacher man in him brought it all home in the final encore with a clap-along, shout-out-loud “I’m a Solider in the Army of the Lord” that doubtlessly pleased Lutherans and unrestrained Baptists alike. —Michael D. Ayers