concert reviews

Randy Travis at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA, Friday 27 July 2007

Randy Travis's set Friday night at Wolf Trap was long on music -- 27 songs in 100 minutes -- and admirably short on chatter, but that's not hard to do when you're 48 and have been performing since you were 10. Even his occasional pauses for a joke or story seemed more purposeful than filler; Travis was a commanding presence despite his scrawny physique.

Many of his songs shared a similar tone, tempo and topic, which he emphasized further by joining three affectionate ballads: the pleading "This Is Me," the joyful "Look Heart, No Hands" and the tender "Whisper My Name." But his set wasn't all crooning love songs. The speedy "Better Class of Losers" described a rowdy way of life, while "The Hole" showed off Travis's rich, deep register.

Even with the long string of predictable hits, the set contained a few pleasant surprises. Accompanied only by pedal steel and his acoustic guitar, Travis covered the Beatles' "Nowhere Man," his slow, melancholy vocals and sparse arrangement amplifying the song's quiet isolation. But the night's most unexpected moment came when he performed a request from his own catalogue, "I Won't Need You Anymore." Confessing that he hadn't performed it in years, Travis called out the song's key, and the eight-piece backup band joined him in the melancholy tune.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 30 July 2007; Page C05
.: Selected discography: Glory Train (Randy Travis, 2005); Passing Through (Randy Travis, 2004); Worship & Faith (Randy Travis, 2003); Full Circle (Randy Travis, 1996); This Is Me (Randy Travis, 1994); Old 8x10 (Randy Travis, 1988); Always & Forever (Randy Travis, 1987); Storms of Life (Randy Travis, 1986).