John Hiatt gave a great performance for a sparse crowd at Wolf Trap on Tuesday. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

Hiatt never let the specter of emptiness inside and outside the amphitheater kill his buzz from being in front of a crowd, any crowd. He persuaded those fans that did show up to go along with a wacky three-part sing-a-long on “Memphis In the Meantime.” He smiled and pumped his leg like a jackhammer while leading his backing trio, which he’s dubbed The Combo, through the fabulously rocky crime caper, “Tennessee Plates.”