The specific clientele that the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook caters to was not lacking in numbers or enthusiasm at the weekend’s three-day engagement with Loretta Lynn. The intimate theatre slowly filled as canes lined the aisles and hearing aids were adjusted in anticipation of one of the reigning queens of country. Lynn’s set definitely appeased her peers as she doled out plenty of hits along with a heavy dose of Southern charm and sass.
Taking the stage in one of her signature ball gowns, Lynn’s entrance was not unlike that of a certain Good Witch of the South as thousands of sequins caught the spotlight. Without a moment’s pause, Lynn took center stage and launched right into “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore,” “You’re Lookin’ At Country,” “When the Tingle Becomes a Chill,” and “I Wanna Be Free.” After her introductory set, the remainder of Lynn’s performance was completely dictated by the audience. “Coal Miner’s Daughter!” shouted someone from the back, to which Lynn quipped, “I don’t like that one, sorry,” (she saved it for last, naturally). Amidst trademark hits like “Fist City” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” she broke off to perform a great cover of her friend Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight” (“You can’t keep playing my songs unless you play them better,” Cline once told Lynn). Joined at the mic by acoustic guitarist Bart Hanson, Lynn also revisited some of her classic duets with Conway Twitty. Hanson’s vocals were strong and charming enough to carry crowd-pleasers “Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man” and “After the Fire is Gone.”
While Lynn may have retired her Epiphone acoustic and her bouffant may not be as high as it once was, she continues to pack just as much punch as when “Fist City” debuted in 1968. Her onstage banter was effortless and drew plenty of laughs, a skill synonymous with Grand Ole Opry legends. Though humble and down-to-earth, Lynn never let her band forget who was in charge, occasionally interrupting songs to, politely yet assertively, remark that the guitar part should be in a higher key. Sixteen years after the death of her infamous husband, Doo, it’s especially clear that Loretta is the boss now, and she seems pretty okay with that.
Photo: Brigette Sullivan – Outer Focus Photos