Late summer Saturday evening traffic to Cohasset wasn't bad, and we got there in plenty of time to pick up our tickets at the Box Office, get a beer/cider, and mosey down to our seats for the opening act at 7:00. The South Shore Music Circus is a big tent around a circle of seats, at the center of which the stage rotates slowly so everyone gets a chance to see the acts up close, but also is looking at them at weird angles for much of the rotation. A novelty, but not successful IMO and lots of sound challenges because of the round tent.
We also felt we had landed in the middle of an old people's colony. I guess most of the people there a) were old and rich enough to be able to afford to live in or near Cohasset and b) were season ticket holders who really didn't care whom they were seeing, they just wanted a night out. There were a few enthusiastic types, and I saw one guy with a backwards baseball cap, but by and large the canes/walkers and over-made-up elderly ladies dominated.
Speaking of being overdressed, the opening act, Walker County, was a little out of hand. They were a great act, but the Dad and lead guitarist (Billy Walker) was dressed in boots and tight jeans like he was twenty years younger, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist (Ivy Dene Walker) was wearing a white, full-length, sequined, and fringed gown and shit-kicker white high heels I can't start to describe, while the other daughter (Sophie Dawn Walker, who would have been on drums if the production had allowed it) was wearing a full-length pink nightmare. And between the three of them they'd run New England out of hair spray.
Apologies for being so snarky, they were really entertaining, though I pick a few nits. Great guitar runs by Billy Walker and some excellent singing by Ivy, though the sound system and the tent were not kind to her voice. They said they played "traditional" music but then ripped into Townes's Pancho and Lefty and later did Haggard's Mama Tried (the first Grateful Dead song of the night). Not exactly traditional as I would define it, but whatever. They also did an excellent original.
K&M showed up soon after the music started and between sets we all went outside and yucked it up ... great to see them!
Then we went back in for the main act and had to endure a bit of build-up. Loretta's twins Patsy and Peggy came out and did an extended info-mercial for Loretta's albums and other merchandise. Then the band came out (they were excellent) and struck up a song that would have been better if they sisters hadn't tried to sing along. Then the band backed up Loretta's son, Ernest Ray, who proved conclusively in a couple of short numbers that he was not a lead singer, but what the heck.
Then everyone stood and they led Loretta on stage in a beautiful, glittery, purple gown and full makeup. To me she was not overdressed ... she looked exactly like Loretta Lynn. And she immediately took over the night. She was awesome and riveting, a living legend at age 83 singing powerfully and with her signature inflection right in front of us.
It was a great setlist, mixing her big hits with a gospel medley and some more obscure numbers. The gospel ended with Where No One Stands Alone and was spine-tingling. She opened with You're Looking At Country, did a great Fist City, Don't Come Home A-Drinkin', You Ain't Woman Enough (another Grateful Dead song!), and One's On the Way with a short segue into her perhaps most topical song, The Pill ("I'm tearing down your brooder house 'cause now I've got the pill").
Loretta visibly was getting tired and she was beginning to miss a few notes. The first time this happened she grinned and said "OK boys, back it up!" She had a chair/throne on stage and eventually sat in that, arraying her beautiful gown around her like the regal presence she is. She eventually let the band take a few numbers while she nodded and grinned along. Finally she ended with the expected and cathartic Coal Miner's Daughter. Some of us in the crowd were going crazy, while most of the elderly set looked a little less bored. Oh well! Loretta's gentlemen escorts came down and helped her off the stage and out the East exit.
It was a short set, everything was over by a little after 9:00. But we felt graced by a superstar; lots of fun! Sarah and I dashed out the exit, rounded the tent to our car, got out of the packed parking lot with surprisingly little trouble, and were back home by a bit after 10:00.