Loretta's casino crapshoot
The tourist enclave of Niagara Falls might epitomize all that is artificial and phony, but Loretta Lynn 's Saturday, March 12, show, the second of two nights at the surreal and stately Fallsview Casino , made the soulless hall warm and homey.
The newly minted Grammy winner was apparently recovering from a nasty pneumonic cold that slowed her down a tad - she took frequent breaks to sit and dab her forehead throughout the set - but for someone turning 70 this year, the lady was on fire.
Relatives helped out during the downtime. Daughter Peggy Lynn helped open the show after admitting she was terrified to be onstage sans twin sister Patsy, her partner in musical crime. Loretta's baby sis Peggy Sue filled in on backing vocals and charmed the crowd with a reedy solo turn and hysterical dirty jokes, while a rogue son-in-law played three inoffensively bland country ditties.
The aw-shucks family angle added to the homespun Grand Ol' Opry vibe. During some of Peggy Sue's racier moments, we felt like members of the studio audience for Hee-Haw. But when Miss Loretta belted her li'l heart out, we got the really golden moments.
She can't hold a note for quite as long as she used to, but new material like Portland, Oregon (on which her Fabio doppelgänger backup singer capably howled the Jack White parts) holds up remarkably well against classics like Coal Miner's Daughter and You Ain't Woman Enough. And when Loretta sizzled on The Pill, we realized she's more than a country music legend, she's a feminist icon standing strong.