Dwight Yoakam only has eyes for you, but not onstage
At this point of his career (no new studio album since 2005, no Top 10 radio hit since 1993), Dwight Yoakam could easily phone it in, with a perfunctory take-the-money-and-run concert. But he’s too proud and too good to do that.
On Friday at soldout Mystic Lake Casino, Yoakam, 54, gave a pretty great, two-hour, 30-song performance – as stellar as his shows in his prime years. He still carries on like he’s on the bandstand of a honky tonk. He’s going to keep you dancing (one song segues into the next) and entertained (with his sexy shimmeying, his guitarist’s energetic dancing and the gorgeous rhinestone jackets of his sidemen).
Yoakam was aware of his location (“greater Minneapolis,” he said, mentioning that he’d been to Minnesota recently but not to Minneapolis) and very much in the moment.
At one point, when he took a rare pause between selections, some people shouted requests or something.  “You interrupted my train of thought,” he explained. “I interrupted my train of thought.” So he responded by playing Nilsson’s 1969 pop hit from the movie “Midnight Cowboy,” “Everybody’s Talkin’” (“everybody’s talkin at me/I don’t hear a word they’re saying”). What a savvy, spontaneous response and effective way to regain his concentration and momentum.
Yoakam and his excellent quartet did a cool twanged-up treatment of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (one of many highlights) and reworked their own tunes, such as transforming “I’ll Be Gone” into a country spiritual.
If there was one word to describe how Yoakam masterfully blends his mysterious can’t-see-my-eyes persona and sexy dancing with a musical melange of honky tonk, rockabilly, bluegrass, Tex-Mex and rock, it would have to be sexy-billy.
Opening was Thompson Square, the husband-and-wife duo starting to make a splash in Nashville. With their band already on the bus to Florida for a headline gig Saturday night, Keifer and Shawna Thompson performed backed by only an acoustic guitarist. Still, the drama, dynamics and blend of their voices (she’s real twangy) was appealing,  whether they did Johnny & June’s “Jackson,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise” or their own hit, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.”
Yoakam’s set list:
Please Please Baby/ Under Your Spell Again/ Act Naturally (Buck Owens)/ Streets of Bakersfield/ Blame the Vain/ Love Caught Up to Me/ What Do You Know About Love/ Close Up the Honky Tonk/ If There Was a Way/ Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose/ Things Change/ This Time/ Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)/ Hey Little Girl/ Little Sister (Elvis Presley)/ Nothing’s Changed Here/ Pocket of a Clown/ Everybody’s Talkin’ (Nilsson)/ Honky Tonk Man/ A Thousand Miles from Nowhere/ This Drinkin Will Kill Me/ It Won’t Hurt/ It Only Hurts When I Cry/ Little Ways/ Guitars Cadillacs/ Fast as You ENCORE I’ll Be Gone/ Bury Me/ Since I Started Drinkin Again/ Long White Cadillac