Unplugged Gill unbelievably good
By Alicia Blaisdell-bannon
August 30, 2008 6:00 AM
HYANNIS – News Flash: You know Vince Gill, the country music singer who does all those really nice songs? He’s a really nice guy.
The multi-Grammy, multi-Country Music Awards singer-songwriter brought his charm, angelic tenor, half a dozen guitars, a bass player, a keyboardist and a percussionist to the Cape Cod Melody Tent last night and wowed an adoring crowd.
Last year, Gill, 51, traveled with a 17-piece band that left him "mostly broke and about half deaf,” he said, so this recent tour is all-acoustic. It’s a great way for him to showcase those superior vocal chords, which show no signs of wear and tear, thank God, reaching perfect high notes in the lovely ballads “Whenever You Come Around,” “Nobody Answers When I Call Your Name” and “Pocket Full of Gold.”
The relaxed setting is also perfect for the folksy Gill – one of country music’s most accessible artists – to share stories with his audience and play a lot of requests. In fact, he said, it was listening to James Taylor do exactly that in concert that made him want to try a scaled-down tour.
If the appreciative Melody Tent audience was any indication, it’s working. Gill has a gentle, self-deprecating humor that makes you actually interested in hearing the stories behind the songs. (“Look at Us,” Gill’s song about a long-lasting relationship, started out as a sad tune, but he took a fellow songwriter’s excellent advice and turned it into something positive. Who knew?)
His best stories – and songs – are about family. He had the crowd laughing when he talked about his father, a judge in Oklahoma who clearly was determined to keep his celebrity son in check. After Gill hosted his first CMA show (he’d go on to emcee 11 more), he said, his father called to tell him he was “no Jay Leno.” But Gill’s emotion when he sang “Key to Life,” his fond reflection on his father, was palpable.
So was his gratitude to the crowd for the silence during “Go Rest High Upon That Mountain,” his achingly gorgeous gospel tribute to his brother. "I could play music and hear the crickets,” he said. “I appreciate your respecting the music that way.”
The feeling was definitely mutual.