George Strait, Reba and Lee Ann Womack Delight in Nashville
Pure country blasted from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena speakers on Saturday, September 11, as George Strait, Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack dazzled a sold-out crowd with a lot of great music and very little glitz and glamour. The show was three-and-a-half hours long, but most fans were already in their seats before Lee Ann's first song, staying until George's last note wafted out the doors onto Fifth Avenue.
The stage was set in the middle of the arena, so that the performers could play to all sides of their audience throughout the night. The only adornment on the stage was the musicians, backup singers, and their instruments. The rest was left up to George, Reba and Lee Ann, who did not disappoint!
Lee Ann opened her set with 'San Antonio Rose,' which literally set the stage for the music of the rest of the night. The Texas native has an angelic voice and a deep love for traditional country music, and she stayed right in that groove throughout her set, which also included 'Last Call,' 'A Little Past Little Rock' and 'I May Hate Myself in the Morning.' Before introducing 'I'll Think of a Reason Later' she announced, "I'm gonna sing one for the girls." In the middle of the song she paused and asked, "Don't we always know one of those girls?" to an answering roar.
Another huge response came with Lee Ann's mega-hit, ' I Hope You Dance,' as the audience sang along to every word. She closed her set by announcing she was going to do a Rodney Crowell tune, picking up the tempo - and her sassy side - with 'Ashes by Now,' ending the song to a standing ovation.
Reba's entry was preceded by a big-screen montage of clips from her music videos and a few movies, along with footage of her Broadway run in 'Annie Get Your Gun.' She opened her show with 'I Can't Even Get the Blues,' sporting blue herself -- in a bejeweled navy-colored top, black pants and knee-high boots, all complimenting her enviable figure.
'It's good to be in my hometown of Nashville and onstage with my friends, Lee Ann Womack and George Strait," Reba proclaimed. Her 75-minute set consisted of popular tunes like her recent hits 'Strange' and 'Turn on Your Radio.' She also reached into the vault for 'The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia,' 'Somebody Should Leave' and 'For My Broken Heart.' She was at ease in communicating with her audience, creating a good rapport with all the fans throughout the evening.
Reba stopped to mention her dear friends, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, who just ended their final tour after 20 years as Brooks & Dunn. "I'm fortunate that I got to record a song written by Ronnie and Terry McBride, 'I'll Keep On Loving You'." A few songs later, Ronnie Dunn made a surprise appearance, joining Reba to sing 'Cowgirls Don't Cry' to a very appreciative applause.
Ronnie wasn't the only guest to join her onstage. Lee Ann came back out to sing 'Does He Love You,' the Grammy-winning duet Reba originally recorded with Linda Davis. The two had fun with the song right down to the hateful glances they exchanged as they sang their respective parts.
Melissa Peterman, who portrayed Barbra Jean on Reba's sitcom, stormed the stage wearing a George Strait T-shirt and carrying a beer, which she later "confessed" was her seventh. "I'm in town trying out for a part at one of your hot theaters, the Deja Vu," she quipped, referring to a popular strip club. "Did you get it?" Reba deadpanned, as Melissa replied in the negative. The two exchanged more good natured quips before Reba sang 'I'm A Survivor,' the theme song to 'Reba.'
"I grew up on a cattle ranch and my family loved to watch westerns," Reba told the audience at one point in her show. With a grin she asked, "Do you know what the best thing about watching westerns is?" After a slight pause, she informed, "It's the good lookin' cowboy of course!" Images of Roy Rogers, Robert Redford, John Wayne, Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Clint Eastwood and George Strait played on the giant monitors as she sang 'I Want A Cowboy.'
She followed that with a poignant introduction of 'The Greatest Man I Never Knew,' talking about her father being a rodeo champion and how he was gone a lot and didn't show affection in the traditional way.
After a few more tunes including 'Consider Me Gone,' 'Why Haven't I Heard From You' and the Kelly Clarkson duet 'Because of You,' Reba exited the stage to huge applause. The audience was soon chanting "Reba, Reba, Reba," and the former rodeo rider didn't disappoint. In her one blaze of glitz, Reba returned to the stage as the monitor played the video for 'Fancy,' in a yellow cab and wearing a red sequined dress. It was a great closing number for a faultless set.
The audience didn't have to wait long for George to take the stage, as all the set changes were brief. The handsome Texan entered to the notes of 'Deep in the Heart of Texas,' and immediately opened his set with 'Twang.' A man of few words, George continued on with 'Ocean Front Property' before he paused to say how good it was to be back in Music City with "two of the greatest entertainers in country music." He added, "I've got a lot of songs to play for you tonight," and the crowd roared its approval. A little later George, who had not played Nashville in six years, noted that it had been too long since he had done a show there.
His 90-minute set was filled with hits, ranging from 'Honk if You Honky Tonk,' 'I Can Still Make Cheyenne,' 'I Hate Everything' and 'The Fireman.' From the ballads like 'She'll Leave You With A Smile' to the more uptempo 'How 'Bout them Cowgirls,' George kept everyone enthralled. He couldn't come close to singing his entire string of nearly 60 number one tunes but he did pretty darn good, including 'She'll Leave You With a Smile,' 'Rollin' on the River of Love,' 'The Chair,' 'Troubadour' and reaching back to numbers like 'Unwound' and 'Amarillo By Morning.'
George called two songs to the attention of the audience. "This song was written by one of my heroes, Merle Haggard, and I'm proud to have recorded it," he said prior to singing 'Seashores of Old Mexico.' He also expressed pride in the tune 'Arkansas Dave,' written by his son, Bubba. Bubba also co-wrote 'Living for the Night' with his dad and songwriter Dean Dillon.
George included the hit song 'Heartland' from the movie 'Pure Country,' and threw in another song about his home state, 'If It Wasn't For Texas.' One of his major responses from the audience came when he sang the hit 'Give it Away,' which won Song of the Year honors from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music for its writers, Jamey Johnson and Bill Anderson.
After running through a few more of his hits, including 'Wrapped,' 'She'll Leave You With A Smile' and 'Run,' George exited the stage to thunderous applause. It only took him a few minutes to come back for an encore that included 'High Tone Woman,' 'All My Exes Live in Texas' and the Johnny Cash classic, 'Folsom Prison Blues.' He provided a fitting ending to the evening with 'The Cowboy Rides Away.' George surely heard the applause all the way back to his dressing room after he exited the room.
This show hearkens back to the days of the package shows in country music, when several major artists would band together to go on tour in order to sell tickets and give the fans a great show. The George, Reba and Lee Ann tour is certainly one of the best on the road this year, offering an entertainment package perfect for cowboys, cowgirls ... and city folk alike.