Like the royal highness she is, Loretta Lynn held court at the Uptown Theater on Saturday night, and for about 80 minutes she gave nearly 1,600 of her subjects plenty to laugh, sing and cheer about.
The show was a family affair. Her son Ernie Lynn opened her set with a few covers, including Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and Toby Keith’s “As Good as I Once Was,” which elicited the first of a few Viagra jokes.
Lynn’s twin daughters, Peggy and Patsy, who perform as the Lynns, sang a few, too, including one of their own called “Sara,” a song about a baby conceived during an adulterous one-night stand. Not the kind of story you hear on mainstream country radio.
With much fanfare, Lynn took the stage, wearing one of her signature shimmering, sequined gowns, this one the color of a café latte, and sang, “They Don’t Make ’Em Like My Daddy.”
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Lynn, 82, has been suffering some leg issues that have required her to sit during most of her performance. But on Saturday, she stood for nearly half the show. Her voice all night was strong and agile, and she was as feisty, sassy and witty as ever. When she sang, “You’re Lookin’ at Country,” she was singing the truth.
Her sharp-dressed band, the Coal Miners, was solid and professional all night. She shared some of the spotlight with them. Guitarist and band leader Bart Hansen knelt beside her as they covered Conway Twitty’s “Lead Me On.”
Later, other Coal Miners took over the show for two songs, including a cover of the Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” the one forgettable moment of a memorable show. She also traded barbs with Ernie Lynn, most of which came off as rehearsed shtick.
Lynn sang most of her best-known songs — tales of survival and hard lessons learned. “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” roused a crowd that remained seated but expressed its appreciation loudly. So did “The Pill,” “Honky Tonk Girl,” “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath” and “Don’t Come Home a’ Drinkin’.”
She stood again for her three-song finale. The first was the gospel hymn “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” which includes the refrain “but nobody wants to die.” She followed that with “Where No One Stands Alone,” then her signature song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which caused a few folks in the crowd to drop a tear or two.
This was a bucket list show for many. Whether you’re going to heaven or not, before you die you should see Loretta Lynn. They don’t make them like her either.
The opener, a 30-something from Greenville, S.C., played a longer-than-usual set, filling in for Wanda Jackson, who has had to cancel touring because of an illness.
Lane is a gifted songwriter with a vibrant personality, and she immediately won over the big crowd, most of whom had never seen her and many of whom had never heard of her. She is part outlaw country; thus the cover of Waylon Jennings’ “Waymore’s Blues.”
Other highlights of her one-hour set: “Man Up,” in which she delivers an ultimatum to her deadbeat husband; “You Can’t Talk to Me Like That”; and “Sleep With a Stranger” and “Walk of Shame,” both tales of sexual escapades.
Lane got mobbed in the lobby after her set, a sign, we hope, that she’ll be back here soon.
Mama Tried; As Good as I Once Was; That’s All I’ve Got to Say; Sara; Tulsa Time; They Don’t Make ’Em Like My Daddy; You’re Looking at Country; When the Tingle Becomes a Chill; I Wanna Be Free; Blue Kentucky Girl; You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man); Love Is the Foundation; Fist City; She’s Got You; Lead Me On; Crazy Arms; One’s on the Way; The Pill; Honky Tonk Girl; Your Squaw Is on the Warpath; Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’; Feelins’; Sweet Thang; House at the End of the Road; Peaceful Easy Feeling; Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven; Where No One Stands Alone; Coal Miner’s Daughter.