Dwight Yoakam, Tommy Ash Band at Fox Tucson Theatre, Thursday, Feb. 7

"Take hold of my hand / I'll do what I can / To make everything right," sings Dwight Yoakam in the opening lines of his new album and tour.

After sound difficulties marred the start of Yoakam's set Thursday, that line rang true to the moment as the apologetic singer and his amazing band cranked up the intensity song after song, delivering a spectacular performance. After all, a little bit of suffering and some patience ultimately yield greater pleasure.

Packing 28 songs - mixing a strong batch of new songs with hits and country standards - into one set requires racing through the tunes with hardly space for a breath in between. Unfortunately, that also meant it took five full songs before the crew caught the band's attention. Left out of the PA, the vocals were all but inaudible to the audience, but fixed after a short break.

Yoakam restarted the show with a quick "As I was saying..." and made up for the trouble with some good humor ("I've never played so long, so low, for so many") and a clear dose of extra effort: He treated the crowd to his signature shimmy running through those first five songs the second time around.

With its soaring vocals and flashy guitar, "Take Hold of My Hand" is vintage Yoakam, an exuberant start to 3 Pears (which he co-produced with Beck) and the show. Then he turned back the clock 25 years with the hit "Please, Please Baby" and took a dip in country's past with "Little Sister," his cover of the Elvis hit. The iconic "Streets of Bakersfield" and "Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose," Yoakam's ode to drowning out sorrows with music, rounded out the first five.

Beyond just aging well, Yoakam's signature hillbilly rock has become timeless and his band (multi-instrumentalist Brian Whelan, bassist Jonathan Clark, electrifying lead guitarist Eugene Edwards and drummer Mitch Marine) simply killed it, reaching a fever pitch on the encore - "A Heart Like Mine" and "Long White Cadillac."

The opening Tommy Ash Band, from Phoenix, paired well with Yoakam, playing a tight and grooving honky-tonk. Singer Tommy Ash (Tommy in this case is a she) has a big, bold voice that's just as adept for torch songs as the band's rockin' version of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."


More by Eric Swedlund


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