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DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SANG
CONCERT REVIEW NOV 14, 2006

Years ago I saw a Dixie Chicks for the first time when they're video for "There's Your Trouble" was on TV and I fell in love with Natalie Maines.  Her sexy country voice and feisty attitude made her a great lead for the group and I've bought every album they've ever made since.  Their 2nd effort, Fly, is still my favorite, and though their most recent effort, Taking The Long Way is a bit more clunky than I would have liked, it's still pretty good.

Of course, you can't talk about the Dixie Chicks without the controversy that surrounds them.  After saying they were ashamed to be from the same state as George Bush, a backlash among country fans (and the radio industry) the likes of which hadn't been seen against any performer in recent history was unleashed.  They lost a ton of fans, got a heapin helping of bad press, and even though a couple years passed, their faded appeal in the South was evident as they had to cancel many dates from their recent tour.  But with a documentary about their trials, Shut Up and Sing, getting good critical buzz, and lead signer Maines' continued outspoken ways, I was eager to see a concert with musicians that I loved to listen to, and was anxious to see that same "Fuck off" mentality on stage in person. 

The documentary title comes from a line in the song, "Not Ready to Make Nice" which refers to a letter they got from some crazy dude that said, "Shut up and sing or your life will be over."  I was hoping to see some of that gorgeous defiance in action at their concert in Sacramento on November 14th, but what I got was a well played, uncontroversial, and relatively safe show that simply duplicated the experience of listening to The Dixie Chicks on CD, with only minimal in between song banter.

While Martie and Emily gave it their all and grinned from ear to ear throughout the event, Natalie seemed to be out of sorts throughout.  She didn't even crack a smile until about 4 songs in.  Most songs started with barely any introduction, and aside from a corny dedication of "White Trash Wedding" to Kevin Federline, there was nary a mention of any current events the whole time she was on stage.

The songs, though played perfectly, sounded exactly like I expected to.  And that's my biggest regret.  No surprises or variants on the songs that had etched themselves into my brain from countless iPod listens.  At $65 a ticket, I was hoping for a bit more than this by the numbers performance of their hits. And Arco Arena, notorious for some of the shittiest live acoustics (lovingly referred to by the locals as "Echo Arena") made it even more hard to enjoy.

And Natalie was wearing one of the most god awful ill-conceived outfits I've ever seen someone sport onstage.  The best way I can describe it is a glittery black tent.  The ill-fitting tunic with a giant belt, black tights, and boots looked like something a 40 year old lady would have worn in 1982.

I got my money's worth, and I'm happy to support the Dixies, but I think in the future I'd be just as content sticking with CDs as the way to enjoy their music in the future.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

 

 

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