VINCE GILL SHINES IN HIS PALLADIUM DEBUT
At the top of Tuesday’s performance, Vince Gill mentioned he was proud to be wearing blue jeans onstage at the Palladium — Carmel’s new concert hall characterized by Gill as a “fancy joint.”
It turns out he was dressed to slay an appreciative audience. Full-service entertainer Gill made listeners laugh at his jokes, reminisce with his hits and marvel at musicianship that flowed from the Oklahoma native and his eight-member band.
Some of the humor could be found in lyrics such as, “If a tree fell in the forest and she didn’t hear it, would I still be wrong?”
That downtrodden gem is taken from 2004′s “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.”
Gill credited the song’s concept to his late father, apparently a mountain of a man who simultaneously chewed tobacco and chain-smoked cigarettes.
In a less provocative corner of Gill’s catalog resides “Some Things Never Get Old,” a selection from his 2006 mega-album of 43 songs, “These Days.”
“Some Things” offers praise for ocean sunsets, a baby’s first steps and the talents of John Prine. Beyond a list, however, Gill inserts self-affirmation that one’s heart can be 100 years younger than what’s seen in a mirror.
The story behind “This Old Guitar and Me” goes back to 1975, when Gill bartered with an Indianapolis man to become the owner of a 1942 Martin D-28 acoustic model. Gill said he lost roughly 50 guitars in the Nashville flood of 2010, but his treasured Martin survived.
When Gill plugged in with a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster, he alternately approximated the rural picking of Jerry Reed, the muscular blues of Eric Clapton and the liquid phrasing of Jerry Garcia.
Inside the song “Pretty Little Adriana,” Gill tucked an instrumental quote of the Allman Brothers Band’s ever-joyous “Jessica.”
Gill’s vocal trademark is high-pitched crooning, and the 53-year-old readily admitted, “I live in a nice house because I sing like a girl.”
It was a treat to hear that voice matched and complemented by one female backup singer, Dawn Sears, and a male one, Jeff White.
And as strong as Gill’s guitar-playing may have been, standout tunes “One More Last Chance,” “Look At Us” and “When I Call Your Name” thrived on an axis of electric piano played by Pete Wasner and pedal-steel guitar played by Paul Franklin.
Regarding sound inside the Palladium, the most pristine mix arrived when relatively few instruments competed for attention. Gill’s segments on acoustic guitar also helped.
Vowing to tackle the “Big Ugly” full-pound hamburger at Bub’s for today’s lunch, Gill will wrap a two-night stand at the Palladium tonight.