Dixie Chicks unite.
Story by Mike HeineBeing a 22-year-old single male, I went to the Dixie Chicks concert at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee hoping to see more chicks than Dixie. I got a little bit of both.
Photos by Terry Mayer
The main fan contingent that flocks to see the Chicks at every bus stop along the Top of the World Tour route is eager 15 to 25 year-old females. The Milwaukee stop was no different. Upon entering the show and noticing the exorbitantly large number of mid-teen to early 20s girls flocking around the tour bus area, I said to my date, Chelsie "Geeze, this is gonna be just like a Britney Spears or Backstreet Boys show." Boy, was I wrong. The fans were certainly into the hour and a half-long show, most standing the entire time, but without the raucous and eardrum-shattering screams that I expected. There were a couple hundred center-stage ticket holders that had the chance to slap hands with Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire or Emily Robison and keep the fire alive throughout the entire set.
The music was still country-esque, but with a deeper meaning to it following the Chicks' recent anti-war sentiments. One song, Patti Griffin's "Truth No. 2," had an accompanying video depicting civil rights rallies, Nazi book burnings and historical activist leaders like Malcolm X, Gandhi and Muhammad Ali. That song was played immediately after the trio mentioned their anti-war statements, which received a mixture of reactionary boos and cheers, more of the latter.
The group warmed the crowd with Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen's "Born in the USA" before heading right into "Goodbye Earl," as center stage lifted the band and the Chicks into view. Perhaps the group's most popular song would have been a good encore, but the fast-paced, not-gonna-take-it-anymore attitude tune kept the crowd going the rest of the way. Not having fully heard the most recent Chicks albums, "Lil' Jack Slade," an entirely instrumental piece, caught my ear and my attention about mid-show. The knee-slappin' bluegrass-style tune was a good pick-me-up. One let down was a wisecrack about Milwaukee the Chicks intentionally let slip before introducing the band. They said the band went on a site-seeing tour through the city and went to see Jeffery Dahmer's old house, followed by the sarcastically, "You've got some wonderful site-seeing here in Milwaukee, huh." Some laughed, but most, myself included, sneered and probably thought it would be better to get on with the show and quit ripping on the state's social, cultural, and economic soul.
Playing a collection of radio tunes intermixed with CD tracks, only the true fans knew well, kept the show interesting for all. Despite not meeting the Chicks (they passed by my seat incased in metal boxes en route to the stage), I had a good time and enjoyed the show. The sound was as pure as one could ask for in a sports arena. The stage included visual delights mixed with music that was sung from the heart.
Lead singer Natalie battled through her lingering illness and belted out such classics as "Some Days You Gotta Dance," "There's Your Trouble," "Ready to Run," and "Wide Open Spaces." Her voice and that of her band-mates even held up well enough for wonderful renditions of slower pieces like "Travelin' Soldier," "Cowboy Take Me Away," and the cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," one of the last pieces before an encore presentation that featured "Top of the World" and "Sin Wagon."
Not a bad way to end a show for a band that some think sinned for speaking their minds, but also a band that stays true to their feelings and true to their songs.
They did this Thursday night in Milwaukee.
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