Cleveland, OH 2004

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Vote for Change' tour serves Cleveland a double-shot concert

John Soeder, Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

The Boss got down to business with a solo instrumental rendition of the national anthem when he led the "Vote for Change" tour to Cleveland for two sold-out concerts Saturday night.

Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band drew 19,000 fans to Gund Arena, on a bill with John Fogerty, R.E.M. and Bright Eyes. The Dixie Chicks and James Taylor performed in front of about 3,000 fans at Playhouse Square's State Theatre.

Meanwhile, about 10 blocks to the east, the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor played to a very enthusiastic capacity crowd.

It was mix-and-match night. Taylor and the Dixie Chicks - Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire - traded solos, harmonized on each other's songs and shared a six-piece backup band. Maines sang lead on Taylor's "Sweet Baby James," while he ripped into the Chicks' "Some Days You Gotta Dance."

The evening bounced from sweet ballads like "Shower the People," to rip-roaring, foot-stomping, country-clap-alongs like "Sin Wagon" and "Mississippi." Maines dedicated "Travelin' Soldiers" to the troops; Taylor dedicated "Carolina" to Edwards.

There was some political talk from the stage, though Taylor managed to mix in a "Hello, Cleveland!"

"I think our guy did pretty good the other night, don't you think?" he said of Kerry's performance in the presidential debate. Taylor's advice for undecided voters: "You look at the two candidates and you vote for the smarter one."

Maines was not as agitated last night over weighty political issues as she was over weight issues. She mentioned that a critic from Pittsburgh the night before carped that she was "still heavy" from having her second baby two months ago.

"To that, I say [expletive] you," Maines said to huge laughs and applause. "Let him try having a baby and see how he looks after the second one."

Besides the Cleveland gigs, the "Vote for Change" blitz of Ohio also had lined up performances Saturday by Pearl Jam in Toledo, John Mellencamp and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds in Columbus, the Dave Matthews Band in Dayton and Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt in Cincinnati.

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