Concert Review: Pam Tillis & Lorrie Morgan

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October 18, 2012

Pam Tillis & Lorrie Morgan
Grits & Glamour Tour
Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center
Bowling Green, Kentucky
October 13, 2012

This past Saturday night, I had the immense pleasure of seeing two favorite artists of mine – contemporary country legends Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan – perform live in concert at the newly completed Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPAC) in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The SKyPAC is a beautifully decorated 1800-seat venue with excellent acoustics, thus providing an ideal atmosphere for Tillis and Morgan’s fantastic Grits & Glamour show.

The Grits & Glamour tour is all about the fans, and all about great music.  No unnecessary gimmicks, bells, or whistles – just Tillis and Morgan singing their hearts out, joined by a small four-piece band.  Both ladies were in fine voice, boasting some absolutely gorgeous harmonies, as they performed together backed by fiddle, bass, guitar, and keyboard.  Such simplicity created a warm, laid-back, almost familial environment as Tillis and Morgan treated the eager crowd to a selection of best-loved tunes, all the while cutting up like one would expect from a couple of longtime girlfriends, and sharing often-humorous personal anecdotes – such as Tillis’ account of being mistaken for Patty Loveless at a Waffle House, by a fan from Knockemstiff, Ohio. (Google it – It’s a real place)

The bulk of the concert set list consisted of

a selection of well-known hits from both artists, finished off with covers of classic songs that are close to their hearts, as well as some more recent cuts.  The two opened the show with a lovely duet version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”  From that point onward, they alternated between performing Morgan’s hits and Tillis’ hits, beginning with Morgan’s “Watch Me” (performed in a fierce fiddle-laden arrangement quite different from the relative slickness of the 1992 hit version) and Tillis’ “Shake the Sugar Tree.”  Obviously, both ladies have had more than enough hits to fill up an entire set list (Tillis has had 13 Top 10 country hits; Morgan has had 14), but Tillis and Morgan did a fine job covering the main highlights of their careers, such that virtually any audience member could enjoy the thrill of hearing something familiar.  Though the hits dominated the set list, Tillis and Morgan also performed standout cuts from each of their most recent albums.  Tillis performed “Train Without a Whistle” from her 2007 career-best effort Rhinestoned, while Morgan gave a heartrending performance of “How Does It Feel” from 2010’s I Walk Alone

A major facet of what makes Grits & Glamour such a broadly enjoyable show is the way its two headliners simply exude genuine love for great country music new and old.  They commented on the increased scarcity of “real” country music in modern times, but Tillis nonetheless assured the audience that “We got it all – fiddles, steel guitar, mandolins – and we ain’t ever lettin’ go of it!”  Both ladies shared a common experience of growing up with the musical heritage of a famous parent – an experience they recollected with fond enthusiasm - being the daughters of singer-songwriter legend Mel Tillis, and of late Opry star George Morgan, respectively.   One of the night’s most memorable moments was a heartfelt tribute to Tillis and Morgan’s famous fathers, as they eased into a medley of George Morgan’s 1949 signature “Candy Kisses” and Mel Tillis’ classic composition “Burning Memories,” a hit first for Ray Price in 1964, and then for Mel Tillis himself in 1977.  In addition, the ladies also lovingly covered classics such as Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.”

As the show neared its end, Tillis and Morgan were met with the loudest applause of the night as they treated the audience to performances of their respective signature classics – Tillis’ “Maybe It Was Memphis,” and Morgan’s “Something In Red.”  They then rose to their feet for an inspired performance of gospel song “Jesus On the Line.”  After an encore, they returned to the stage to perform brief snippets of Morgan’s 1993 number one “What Part of No” and Tillis’ 1990 debut hit “Don’t Tell Me What to Do.”  Then came one of the biggest highlights of the evening as the two closed out the show by tearing into the rousing up-tempo number “I Know What You Did Last Night” – a new song which is to appear on Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan’s forthcoming Grits & Glamour duets record.  After the show ended, Tillis and Morgan headed out to the atrium to sign autographs for a crowd of enthusiastic concertgoers.

Needless to say, the Grits & Glamour concert experience was more than enough to whet one’s appetite for the ladies’ soon-to-be-completed duet effort.  The unique chemistry shared between the two outstanding talents was on full display throughout the evening.  If you have the opportunity to catch any of Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan’s future shows on the Grits & Glamour tour, you will be in for a real country music treat.

Set list:

“Both Sides Now”
“Watch Me”
“Shake the Sugar Tree”
“Except for Monday”
“Cleopatra, Queen of Denial”
“A Picture of Me (Without You)”
“Train Without a Whistle”
Medley:  “Candy Kisses”/ “Burning Memories”
“The End of the World”
“Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)”
“How Does It Feel”
“Spilled Perfume”
“King of the Road”
“I Guess You Had to Be There”
“Maybe It Was Memphis”
“Something In Red”
“Jesus On the Line”

Encore:

“What Part of No”
“Don’t Tell Me What to Do”
“I Know What You Did Last Night”

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16 Comments

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  1. gloriaNo Gravatar says:

    Now this sounds like a REAL country show!! Your review makes me wish I had been standing right beside you!! Oh the good ole days of country music!! Sure do miss them! I love both these ladies music!

  2. LeeNo Gravatar says:

    Great review of two great artists! Wish I was there.

  3. sharon wellsNo Gravatar says:

    Great review! Awwww> I LOVE Joni Mitchell. I rocked my kids to sleep with Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Dylan. Maybe next time I will get to go when they come to BG.

  4. So so wish they had come around the Boston/NH area. Would’ve killed to have seen that show. Great review, Ben!

  5. bobNo Gravatar says:

    Sounds like a great concert. I guess I had a short preview last Thursday night at a Grand Ole Opry show at the Ryman which Pam & Lorrie closed out. They mentioned the Grits & Glamour tour.

  6. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    I saw them together in 2010, I think. The set list was similar but not as strong as this one. Would’ve loved to hear that new song!

  7. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never seen Pam Tillis in concert but I saw Lorrie Morgan in concert in 1998 or 1999. I attended quite a few concerts back in the late 1990s and I thought Morgan was pretty decent. I no longer am interested in concerts but I do remember enjoying hers.

  8. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never seen either in concert but this sounds like a good show. Maybe they’ll swing around to my part of the country. I saw Mel Tillis in concert a few times and would like to see Mel and Pam perform together, although Mel is getting a bit long in the tooth for that to be more than a fantasy

  9. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Kevin, I have to ask: How many times have you seen Pam? Just curious :)

  10. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    A few times. If memory serves:
    1994 (with Shenandoah opening)
    1995 (with Wade Hayes opening)
    1996 (with Lorrie Morgan and Carlene Carter)
    2002 (with The Warren Brothers opening)
    2005 (State Fair)
    2010? (with Lorrie Morgan)
    2012 Solo

    I guess seven, all in the NY area. Would like for her to have a new studio album out before I go again. She’s always solid, though.

  11. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Pretty cool! This was actually my first time seeing either Pam or Lorrie. I would kill to see them with Carlene Carter.

  12. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    That show was in Central Park. It was pretty cool. They each did a set, then came out and did a few songs together.

  13. Razor XNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve been waiting with baited breath for their duet album for a long time now. Is there any word on when it will be released?

  14. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I still haven’t heard a release date. They said it was “not finished yet,” but hopefully soon.

  15. JemmaNo Gravatar says:

    I am waitting for this release so much.
    Maybe our thoughts and expectations will bring the result :)

  16. fluffyNo Gravatar says:

    this sounds like it was an awesome show ,oh how i wish we could have great country music like this again , instead of the stuff they are calling country music nowadays, lorrie has always bee one of my favorite singers , I saw her in 1995 in concert, it was during a real bad storm , david lee murphy was opening for her, his show was canceled but lorrie went on and did the whole show ,it was fantastic,she never missed a beat even with all the thunder and lighting going it and i wasn’t about to leave ,i doubt if we will ever have real country music again

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