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Yoakam Does His Greatest Hits and Heartaches

Pop Music Review

July 30, 1999|RANDY LEWIS

It's no accident that the song Dwight Yoakam opened with Wednesday at the Universal Amphitheatre on his first tour in three years was "Only Want You More." It set the tone for the evening with a theme that has surfaced repeatedly over Yoakam's 15-year recording career:

"There's not a prayer

Left for me escaping

From your love

Yeah, that wicked love."

That love-is-doomed view has secured him a niche as contemporary country's anguished loner, albeit it one who shuffles off Lonely Street long enough to have a little rocking fun now and then.

That's pretty much what happened through his 90-minute show for an adoring, near-capacity crowd. It was largely a career overview, with a little extra emphasis on his most recent studio album, 1998's "A Long Way Home."

The most consistently engrossing segment was the encore portion, in which the Kentucky native returned with just an acoustic guitar and reeled off a string of songs that tapped his bluegrass and folk roots and brimmed with spontaneity.

The Mavericks opened with a set so exuberant musically it was tempting to forgive the simplistic lyrics they've favored in recent years, as if something more substantive might rob attention from lead singer Raul Malo's hall-of-fame vocals or the irresistible grooves and sonic textures the band concocts. As the late Steve Goodman once put it, "Give us some words we can dance to."

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