CONCERT REVIEW: Lyle Lovett & Robert Earl Keen let Airway Heights in on their long-time friendship

Nearly halfway through their excellent sold-out show, Lyle Lovett told the audience that the acoustic shows he and fellow Texan Robert Earl Keen do on occasion are more than just concerts for them, but rather a handy excuse for a couple of buddies to "hang out." 
Their respective careers playing heartfelt and often hilarious country and folk tunes have taken each of them far from home regularly for decades now, but the friendship that started when they were both college students in 1976 at Texas A&M remains, and is palpable as they sit next to each other on stage, cracking jokes, swapping stories and delivering songs of Cadillac cowboys, family spats and love gone awry. 
"We were real friends," Lovett said of the bond the two forged when they were aspiring songwriters sitting on a College Station, Texas, front porch. "Not fake show-business friends.
"There is very little "show-biz" about Lovett or Keen, no matter how many movies Lovett appears in or how dramatic Keen's combo of suit and hat look on stage. And their show at Northern Quest Resort & Casino Sunday night was proof positive that a stripped-down all-acoustic show can be just as engaging and emotionally satisfying as any amplified blowout full of stage bells and whistles. 
The two entered and left the stage together, and in between they sat closely side by side, each with a guitar, to deliver more than 20 songs spanning each man's respective catalog. For the most part, they simply took turns playing solo, the exceptions being the occasional guitar flourish Keen would add to a Lovett songs like "What Do You Do/The Glory of Love," or harmony vocals Lovett added to Keen's "I"m Comin' Home." And naturally, they shared lead vocals on "Front Porch Song," a tune they co-wrote years ago in Texas that both included in their '80s-era debuts.
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