Pittsburgh, PA 2006
Martie Maguire
Emily Strayer
Natalie Maines
Court Yard Hounds
Natalie Maines Music
Awards and Accolades
Chick Chats
Comic Chicks
Magazine Articles
Magazine Covers
News Archive
Radio Show Transcripts
Record Charts
Tour Dates/Reviews
Trivia and Other Chicksbits
TV Appearances
About Me

photo by Alyssa Cwanger, Post-Gazette

Chicks show is long on talent, short on politics

By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Whether you believe The Dixie Chicks are being blacklisted for their political views or merely shunned by a former audience they alienated, three things are incontrovertible: About half the seats were empty at Saturday's Mellon Arena concert. Those who showed up were wildly supportive of the band. And those who didn't missed a great show.

Despite reasonable concerns by some fans that the concert might turn into a political rally, the Chicks mostly let the music do the talking during the second show of their Accidents & Accusations Tour.

The political jabs were few and benign. The backing band took the stage to the tracked strains of "Hail to the Chief," and when singer-guitarist Natalie Maines couldn't remember a word, she quipped, "I feel like the president. I can't think of what to say."

The all-star studio band and celebrity co-writers who helped record the Chick's million-selling "Taking the Long Way" CD didn't join them on the road.

Maines, guitar and banjo picker Emily Robison and fiddler Martie Maguire were backed by a solid nine-piece band, including a small string section that added atmosphere to a few songs.

With Maines wielding an electric guitar, they ripped through their new "Lubbock or Leave It" and segued to Patty Griffin's "Truth No. 2," which sparked a fire in the audience with the misinterpreted line, "You don't like the truth coming from my mouth."

Maines slung a bass over her shoulder for a long-time crowd pleaser, songwriter Dennis Linde's fun if murderous "Goodbye Earl," and picked six- and 12-string acoustics on "The Long Way Around" and Stevie Nick's "Landslide."

The Chicks' "Everybody Knows" resonated beautifully on 48 strings from five guitars, bass and mandolin.

While the new CD advanced the group's progressive country sound farther down the pop-rock road, the concert took several detours back to the dirt-road sounds of mainstream country and bluegrass.

Maines carried the mic on "Cowboy Take Me Away" and strummed an electric on "Wide Open Spaces," from the group's earlier mainstream CDs. Robison and Maguire picked and sawed up a storm on the "Home" album breakdowns, "White Trash Wedding" and "Lil' Jack Slade."

"If there's any question that we're turning into a rock band, I'd like to show you the Omnichord," said Maines, cradling the electronic autoharp during the soothing "Lullaby." "It's not exactly a rock instrument. Once we got the mad-as-hell stuff out of our system, we wrote this song.

"And in case you think that ticket sales were really slow and I couldn't afford a manicurist," she joked, spreading her fingers, "my two-year-old painted my fingernails."

She clenched those fingers, however, punched at the air and beat her chest during the group's acidic single, "Not Ready to Make Nice." The crowd roared as Maines screamed the line about getting a threatening letter.

"Anybody seeing us for the first time?" she asked, near the end of the show.

About half of the 8,500 ticket holders applauded.

No poll was necessary, however, to feel a different vibe among The Dixie Chicks' smaller new following. "Travelin' Soldier," which used to elicit a patriotic swell from the crowd, barely drew a smattering of applause.

They closed the two-hour performance with a sharp cover of Bob Dylan's "Mississippi" and the band's new gospel-tinged peace anthem, "I Hope."

Sony recording artist Anna Nalick opened with a contagious half-hour of passionate indie-style rock songs from her major label debut, "Wreck of the Day."

If the Chicks' choice of a support act sheds light on their musical direction, there was no hint of country -- progressive or otherwise -- in Nalick's well-performed rock show.

About a dozen pro-Chicks protesters carried signs of support outside Mellon Arena. No activists opposed the group.

    Please take note of this before emailing me. I have no affiliation with the Dixie Chicks and/or their website, Court Yard Hounds and/or their website, Natalie Maines Music and/or her website, their management, publicists, record label or anyone else they may come in contact with on a regular basis. This is just a fan owned site. I do not have an email address for them. Your message cannot be passed on to them.
Thank you for visiting my site.

hits counter