The Egg is wonderful. Perched on a pedestal in Empire Plaza, Nelson Rockefeller’s monument to modern architecture, this unusual structure (it actually resembles a clam, but that’s a less appealing name) boasts extraordinary acoustics, perfect sightlines for even the vertically challenged and ample legroom for the vertically gifted. The Egg’s intamacy and Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group are a match made in heaven.
Lovett’s well-crafted two-hour-plus set kicked off with an homage to the Egg, his “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel,” and its refrain “I’m going to choke my chicken ’til the sun goes down,” one of many examples of Lovett’s passion for double entendre. Lovett’s halting, self-deprecating patter between songs belies his keen intelligence, just as his corny songs about self-abuse (“you can’t stop the US male”) provide a foil for his shiver-down-your-spine vocal beauty when he unleashes it, as he did on the heartbreaking “God Will.”
One of the most generous performers in music, Lovett showcases his sidemen many times during the evening, not just naming them but introducing them as individuals, describing their backgrounds, talking about their careers and playing their compositions. The four men, in turn, play their butts off for Lovett; I was especially impressed by Luke Bella (fiddle, harmony), who treated us to his lovely song, “Temperance Reel.”
Albert Einstein famously stuck out his tongue and mugged for the camera, but nobody took him for a fool. Lyle Lovett can aw-shucks as much as he wants, but we still recognize his genius.
– Suzanne Cadgène