Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen brought their guitar-pull style of show to Tucson’s Fox Theatre on Feb. 15. Both entertainers are prolific songwriters with lyrics that are slick, witty, and insightful about family and life. They quickly started passing on their wit and wisdom to their Tucson fans as they started their two and a half hour set.
Lovett and Keen have been friends since they met during their college days at Texas A&M in the 1970s. They shared the same struggles breaking into show business. Through the years they have toured together occasionally. They seem to have a similar sense of humor on and off stage. It’s a perfect match for them to tour together.
The stage was sparsely set with two chairs, a rug, and three guitars on each side of each singer. There was the usual microphone set up that separated this from being in someone’s living room. It was apparent from the start that these two entertainers have a mutual respect and admiration for each other. They were there to have as much fun as the crowd.
Lovett had finished harmonizing with Keen when he said, “Thank you for letting me sing along.” Keen, “Oh man you are always welcome to sing along. It’s like adding picante sauce. It’s always better with picante.” Lovett quipped, “That’s about the nicest compliment I ever have gotten."”
Later in the show, Lovett remarked, “Robert and I have been sitting around and doing this literally since 1976. We are not usually doing this in front of people. We appreciate you all for letting us pass this off as a show. Robert was really generous to me back when we first met. He let me hang out at his house. There were quite a few people that hung out at Robert’s house. They left instruments there. There was always someone to listen to a record with or play a song with even if Robert and his roommate weren’t there. Robert never locked the house. Robert was so gracious and generous that rather than run anybody off when he had serious work to do, he would simply check into a motel. That’s not based on a true story. That is a true story. He never asked me to leave.”
They alternated songs back and forth. Lovett did most of the harmonizing and Keen played backup guitar that included some subtle electric guitar. Keen was more boisterous with his banter and his singing. Lovett’s wry sense of humor was always present. There didn’t seem to be a set list of the songs. Click here for the setlist.
This was a captivating evening with two iconic songwriters and their music, stripped down and delicious. Lovett was asked to come back to Tucson after the show. He responded, “Well, put in a good word for me.”