Friday Night: Dwight Yoakam at Arena Theatre

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Dwight Yoakam, Mike Stinson Arena Theatre December 21, 2012

When most of us are sick and fighting seasonal flu and cold systems, we retreat to a warm bed with cold pillows and Netflix.

Few of us could go onstage in skintight blue jeans and shake our asses for two hours, but that's what Dwight Yoakam pulled off Friday night at the Arena Theatre.

Before a nearly sold-out crowd, Yoakam and his band (surrounded by oversized, groovy lava lamps) whipped through nearly half of this year's 3 Pears, plus all his set-list standards, a few trusty covers, and even rattled out a version of Chuck Berry's "Run, Rudolph, Run" for the holiday-weary audience.

This show was a touch lighter than Yoakam's last trip to the Arena, when he played at near-deafening levels, a time the 3 Pears stuff was still in gestation and the man was digging into his album tracks live instead.

My review of that show achieved cult status with Dwight's Facebook fans, because I made the simple assertion that he's a rocker in country clothing, sharing more in common with Bruce Springsteen or Social Distortion than conventional country.


Friday Night: Dwight Yoakam At Arena Theatre

Friday's set was everything that that 2011 show was, but dialed down a tad due to Yoakam's illness, and with the addition of the 3 Pears material .

At one point he wondered aloud how he got sick again -- GET STRONGER MEDS -- but still found time to shout out the Houston Texans for their winning season, all during "Streets of Bakersfield," which he amended for his surroundings.

(As I write this though, the Texans are suffering a biting, irritating Sunday afternoon loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but it's the thought that counts. Fuckin' Adrian Peterson.)

For what it is worth, you, me and everyone we know seems to be hopped up on some form of cold meds lately. I can't imagine the Arena's revolving stage helped Yoakam's situation, but he performed valiantly.

His shimmying and shaking really are a show unto themselves. By now it's probably built in to his very guitar playing. He may do it in the studio or at soundcheck, or even while playing air guitar at home.

Opener Mike Stinson held his own, playing a quick set on the revolving stage to warm up the crowd. Stinson is of course an old friend of Dwight's, and the tight-panted one has even recorded one Stinson's songs.

Here's wishing for Stinson to have a loud and rowdy 2013 with that promised new album.

The crowd for this show wasn't as frothing and lustful as the 2011 gaggle -- blame holiday fatigue? -- but I still saw a middle-aged woman dancing at her seat with her crutches thrown aside. I mean, wouldn't Yoakam's glam-rocked cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" of course have the ability to fuse together bone?

The healing power of guitars and lava lamps is real.

Her friend was doing "the swim" during "Little Ways," or at least something close to it. A continuous procession of fans walked to the stage to take pictures on their cellphones, but they were shut down by Arena staff. A Yoakam encore seemed unlikely given his condition, but after a few minutes of cheers and hollering he and the band arrived back on the stage, reloaded for another round.

The healing power of a (happy) Houston crowd.

Personal Bias: Dwight turns any crowd into a sweaty, dancing mess.

The Crowd: It's just too bad that everyone's jeans seemed to be too tight Friday night for a full-on dance orgy in the crowd.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Was he the musician married to that one lady?"

Random Notebook Dump: This show and the one in the summer of 2011 were almost identical, save for the new material, which didn't tarnish the effect in the slightest. A good deja vu.

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