If you came hoping for an evening of non-stop, high-energy music Friday evening, you were in the wrong place.
If you were in the mood for a leisurely paced few hours of music, exquisitely performed by a couple of masters, that would fill you with a warm glow of satisfaction, Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall was exactly where you wanted to be.
Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett, longtime friends and occasional collaborators, played to a capacity crowd of 1,743, taking turns playing their own songs in a deliberately informal show heavy on conversation.
Lovett, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, and Gill, in a jacket, jeans and sneakers, sat in the center of a darkened stage, a small table between them and a couple of extra guitars in stands to their sides. A few reddish lights overhead illuminated the scene, and a soft white spotlight highlighted whoever was taking the lead.
They let the audience know right away the show would be about more than music. Before they played their first note, they shared several minutes of dryly humorous conversation about the pronunciation of "Van Wezel."
Gill's first song was "One More Last Chance."
Lovett started with "Cute as a Bug."
Almost always, when Gill sang, Lovett sat and looked on.
When Lovett sang, Gill played gorgeous and tasty lead parts.
"You play so good," Lovett said. "You make me want to go back and redo my records."
Lovett's quirky and sardonic country-flavored songs and Gill's much more standard country compositions wouldn't seem a natural fit, but they work well together, and the artists seemed to appeal to just about everyone in the capacity crowd.
There was more talk than music, and most of it from Gill, who told long stories before each of his songs. He talked about his early days in music, about his father about his wife, (singer Amy Grant). Some were obviously personal stories related to the songs he played, but a couple were just familiar jokes in a new frame.
Lovett was his famously laconic self with wryly witty observations, mostly in response to Gill.
You could have wished for more music and less chat, but the audience didn't seem to mind. And when Gill and Lovett played, especially when they played together, the evening was sublime.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.