Unfortunately, a laid-back attitude sometimes overwhelmed all, as the singer approached the first half hour or so appearing mildly bored with it all. Whether it was the interplay with his crack band or the repeated calls from some of the yahoos in the crowd to "wake up," Prine eventually turned it up a notch, smoothly sailing through his impressive catalog.

Unfortunately, a laid-back attitude sometimes overwhelmed all, as the singer approached the first half hour or so appearing mildly bored with it all. Whether it was the interplay with his crack band or the repeated calls from some of the yahoos in the crowd to “wake up,” Prine eventually turned it up a notch, smoothly sailing through his impressive catalog.

Despite that muscular band — particularly lead guitarist David Steele, always smart and tasteful with the solos — the full-bore rock approach to tunes such as “Picture Show” and “Everything Is Cool” seemed a bit heavy-handed.

A long midsection featuring Prine alone with his guitar was much more enjoyable, ranging from the touching reminiscence “Souvenirs” and the cleverly amusing “It’s a Big Old Goofy World” to the still-devastating tale of a drug-addicted Vietnam vet, “Sam Stone.”

Prine’s latest album on his own Oh Boy label, “Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings, ” clearly is trying to capitalize on the late-blooming success of its immediate (and superior) predecessor, the Grammy-winning “The Missing Years.” Nevertheless , this show was split fairly evenly between those two works and older tunes.

John Prine

(Beacon Theater, New York; 2,755 capacity; $ 35 top)

Production

Presented by Radio City Music Hall Prods. Band: Larry Crane, David Steele, David Jacques, Ed Gaus, Phil Parlapiano. Reviewed Sept. 23, 1995. John Prine's rough-edged, world-weary charm eventually shone through at this Beacon Theater show ... but it took some doing. Prine's articulate, thoughtful story songs and nasal rasp are a perfect match for each other, and those gifts never failed during this concert. Alternately detailing his characters' lives in somber, sneering or humorous tones -- and sometimes all of that within the same number -- Prine's most successful songs are arranged simply, acoustically, with a light and laid-back touch.
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