Loudon Wainwright III and Leo Kottke November 5, 2008
By Glen Creason
The only surprising thing about the superb evening of music coming from two authentic greats: Loudon Wainwright III and Leo Kottke was that there were some empty seats in the Performing Arts Center. I don’t have to exaggerate when I say you won’t find better in the genre than this duo and the privilege to hear them both on one night is rare indeed. Wainwright is the master songwriter, most certainly the ultimate in describing the volatility of family relationships and Leo Kottke is just an otherworldly guitar player, using the twelve and six string ax to take audiences to awed places of musical epiphany. This combo in one night at Cerritos is a jackpot of musical riches and a coup for the big hall. Both men are exceedingly humble and casual about their performances but that is part of the overall charm and makes their serious moments stand out all the more. While Wainwright writes mostly about himself and his peccadilloes, Kottke plays mostly in the abstract emotions of his experiences. There is a certain ambiguity there, certainly in the song titles that he never divulges for the ease of the beleaguered reviewer.
The show was opened by Wainwright who kept it light in the beginning with “Here Comes the Choppers,” “Leap of Faith” and “Heaven” blithely covering modern paranoia, elections and the afterlife, all accompanied by his trademark wit and unique performance style. “Thanksgiving” was one of three powerhouse family-themed songs that struck a chord of sweet memory for me. His tribute to his Mom, “White Winos” is nothing short of a masterpiece and the restoration of “Be Careful There’s a Baby in the House” was both delightful and true. Loudon complained about being described as self-deprecating, then launched into the very sad “Kick in the Head” and deeply emotional “Another Song in C” that demonstrated his great talent for describing angst in poetic terms. Still there were the whimsical tunes like “Drinking Song,” “Lucky You” and “I Don’t Think Your Wife Likes Me” that made him look undeniably self-deprecating. It’s ok for him to kid himself when he has given so much wisdom to music in his forty years on stage.