If Penticton is a urban country city, on Friday night they found their No. 1 honky tonk man at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Playing a good mix of his older hits and songs off his more recent album, Dwight Yoakam had people two-stepping most of the night away.
The country legend appeared to be having fun on stage rolling into one song after the other, dancing his trademark shuffle, hip swivel and boot scootin.’
Yoakam, accompanied by his band wearing bejewelled jackets, started off the almost two-hour show with Take Hold of My Hand (a song he co-wrote and featured on the 2012 album 3 Pears) and didn’t waste any time getting into Elvis Presley’s Little Sister.
He played with the crowd during Streets of Bakersfield with the music coming to an abrupt stop after stating, “I spent some time in Bakersfield”, only to restart with him singing “I spent some time in Kamloops”, and restart again until he got to “I spent some time up in Penticton.”
This, of course, drew the loudest cheer.
While those at the back of the floor had no qualms about getting up and dancing it took some coercing near the front of the stage to get bums out of the seats.
A few Elvis-like dance moves on stage with his trademark tight, faded jeans and his recognizable twang drew some screams.
Playing hits like Pocket of a Clown had the crowd back into it.
Yoakam seemed to respond and the tempo of the show matched the audience’s energy.
“I came to Penticton to play for you. I have been all over B.C. but this is the first time I have been here,” said Yoakam during rare banter with the audience.
“Thank you very much for coming. Thank you for coming out I am gracious,” he said.
“I’m going to play some things from my newest album 3 Pears and some more from the last 27 years.”
Earlier in the week he was given the Americana Music Artist of the Year award, based on his 3 Pears album.
The songs he performed off it fit seamlessly into the set and were well received by the audience. Still, it was Yoakam’s hits of the 80s and 90s that really got them going.
A rendition of Burning Ring of Fire, Honky Tonk Man, Thousand Miles to Nowhere and Guitars and Cadillacs amongst some of the crowd favourites.
Just as quickly as he got into the evening, Yoakam finished off with Fast As You (from his 1993 album This Time) gave a quick wave and he peeled off out of sight.
He was beckoned back onto the stage by the audience where he introduced his band and played two more songs.
With so many people holding up their cell phones to take pictures and snapping away with point and shoots it is a shame Yoakam refused to let the media take their own pictures.
His demand of no photos was also forced on charismatic opener, and rising Alberta country singer Brett Kissel.
Kissel jumped the gun on his slated start time, excited to just get up on stage and play. He was an amazing warm-up for the night and had some of the biggest cheers and engagement from the audience for an opening country act at the SOEC that I have ever seen.
The 23-year-old played tunes from his forthcoming album Started With A Song and some country classics like Thank God I’m A Country Boy with genuine enthusiasm and great showmanship.
If you missed him, don’t make that mistake again. He will also be opening for Loretta Lynn at the SOEC in November.