A wise man once pointed out that there are five key elements in the perfect country-western song: a barroom, a train, a broken heart, somebody's mother and a dog. Except for the dog, they were all at the Capitl Centre Friday night.
Before nearly 15,000 appreciative fans, headliners Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, along with Mickey Gilley, offered three solid hours of the best and worst in Nashville sounds.
The best included Gilley's opening set. He mixed a bit of rockabilly with Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me," Nat Cole's bluesy "Pretend" and a crowd-pleasing medley of country standards. Closing his set with Baker Knight's raucous "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time," Gilley primed the crowd for country-music's resident madonna.
Loretta Lynn, looking heavier and more prosperous than in previous shows, gave her audience what they had come to hear: broken-hearted melodies, songs of middle-class contentment and the childhood joys of a coalminer's daughter.
Her set included a musical tribute to Patsy Cline, along with Lola Dillon's "When the Tingle Becomes a Chill," "One's on the Way" and "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed."
Lynn's hard work and honest emotion were a pleasant contrast to that of Conway Twitty, whose 30-minute set was for the most part a forced march through his many country hits. Loretta Lynn joined Twitty in "Feelins" and Bobby Bare's "God Bless America Again" rescued a fine, country lovers' evening from Twitty's Nashville-macho delivery and Las Vegas-style production.