Dwight Yoakam is a modern honky-tonk master. Actually, he’s been doing his honky-tonk man bit since 1986, just spicing it with flavors of the Beatles, Roy Orbison and others 1960s sounds he grew up on.
That was evident during his generous, often impassioned, sometimes playful and overall outstanding 110-minute performance Friday night at Treasure Island Casino.
Yoakam offered a half-dozen numbers from his splendid new album, “3 Pears,” (his first studio album of new material in seven years), and each was wearing its oldies influences on its sleeves.
“Take Hold of My Hand” had a “This Magic Moment” chord progression. “Rock It All the Way” featured a “Sweet Jane” guitar riff. The song “3 Pears” came across like Springsteen doing the Byrds. The verses on “Waterfall” poured forth at a “Me and Bobby McGee” tempo. “Heart Like Mine” oozed the British Invasion. A new version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (featured on deluxe edition of “3 Pears”) had a piano groove from “Bang a Gong.”
To add a vintage vibe, Yoakam had lava lamps all over the stage, and his sidemen were sporting rhinestone-covered, Nudie-inspired jackets.
Yoakam has a new guitarist, Gene Edwards, who replaced flashy Eddie Perez, who is back with the Mavericks. Although Edwards shook his head animatedly, he didn’t have the long locks of Perez but he had the guitar licks.
Wearing his familiar jean-jacket and poured-on jeans, Yoakam did a bit of his famous sexy twisting-in-his-cowboy-boots dancing. He had a little fun with the festive crowd, boasting about coming to Minnesota in the heart of winter. When he sang “Streets of Bakersfield,” he joshed about inserting “Wisconsin,” “Iowa” or “North Dakota” in the song but finally sang “spent some time in Minnesota.”
Highlights of the almost breathless, no-breaks-between-song 27-tune set included the always exciting “Fast as You” (which sounded like Roy Orbison on speed), the joint-is-jumping “Guitars, Cadillacs,” the loneliness classics “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” and “It Only Hurts When I Cry,” the new haltingly hiccupy “Heart Like Mine” and Dave Alvin’s closing “Long White Cadillac,” which was stretched into a guitar-fueled train song.