Boston, MA 2006

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Boston 2006
photo by Tim Correira / Boston Herald

Make no mistake, these talented Chicks rock
 
By Christopher John Treacy, Boston Herald

The Dixie Chicks’ mass appeal is easily explained by their covering a huge cross-section of musical styles. Tastefully blending elements of commercial country, pop, adult contemporary, rock and folk music has made them the highest-selling female group in any format.
 
But it’s not just about being all things to all people. The Dixie Chicks are, in fact, amazingly talented, which is what came across most clearly through an impressive, two-hour show at TD Banknorth Garden last night.
 
After a sure-footed opening set from Bob Schneider, the trio and their fantastic nine-piece band took the stage amid sounds of a stately, patriotic march - just one of many musical references to the infamous anti-Bush comments front gal Natalie Maines made during a UK gig in 2003.
 
After muscularly ripping through “Lubbock or Leave It” from their new CD “Taking the Long Way,” they jammed out the first of two tunes penned by Patty Griffin, “Truth No. 2.” Martie Maguire’s alternating fiddle and mandolin, along with Emily Robison’s banjo , kept the anchor in country waters, but what also came across last night is how much of a rock band the Chicks really are beneath their genre-defying mix. In other words, bend it, break it, twist it however you like, but it’s still rock ’n’ roll.
 
In fact, the band cranked at such a fury, they quite nearly eclipsed their own astonishingly crisp harmonies.
 
Playing nine of their 14 new songs, they also pulled a hearty sum from 2002’s “Home.” The hilarious “White Trash Wedding” took the Garden for a fun-loving hayride, while Griffin’s poignant “Top of the World” provided the night’s most emotionally compelling moment.
 
The earlier material was sparse, but they dusted off the title track of 1998’s “Wide Open Spaces” and did a spirit-raising “Ready to Run” as their closer.
 
If the Dixie Chicks are as much of a rock band as their “Accidents and Accusations” tour would have us believe, then it’s a good thing Maines didn’t apologize for her much-ballyhooed comments. Rock ’n’ roll is about freedom, breaking rules, and speaking your mind. And if these rocking country gals aren’t “ready to make nice,” then, well, they shouldn’t have to.
 

Chicks show their many musical sides

The only controversy surrounding the Dixie Chicks' "Accidents and Accusations" tour stop at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden Saturday night will be over the sound mix for the multiplatinum country trio's exuberant hour - and - 45-minute set.

Considering the level of nuance in their exceptional catalog of country-folk-pop-rock -- the layers of pristine harmony, the finely tuned blend of banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, organ, and drums -- the sound quality bordered on tragic.

But even when it was hard to pick Emily Robison's banjo picking -- which looked impressively nimble on the large overhead video screen -- out of the din, the Chicks and their well-oiled nine-person band managed to convey the greater sense of joy and pathos of the songs with the sheer force of their good will.

The not quite sold-out crowd of 12,568 was behind the Texas trio from the get-go , cheering as Robison, her fiddling sister Martie Maguire , and powerhouse vocalist Natalie Maines took to the stage to a patriotic triumphal that sounded like a close cousin to ``Hail to the Chief."

That wasn't the only nod to what the Chicks refer to as the ``incident" -- when Maines dissed George W. Bush from a London stage in 2003. Indeed, the night's longest and loudest ovation -- easily more than a minute long -- came at the close of a powerful reading of the defiant yet catchy new single ``Not Ready to Make Nice."

It was one of many tracks drawn from the superb new ``Taking the Long Way" disc, which held up nicely alongside earlier favorites such as the soaring ``Cowboy Take Me Away," ``Wide Open Spaces , " and the bouncy revenge anthem ``Goodbye Earl. "

Especially poignant was the delicate ``Easy Silence , " with Maines dialing back her golden wail to croon sweetly of the small kindnesses of a partner and Maguire transitioning from back porch fiddle to first - chair violin as she joined another violinist and a cellist for a fluid string interlude.

Of course, the Chicks showed off their cheeky, upbeat side as well with the zesty bluegrass instrumental ``Lil ' Jack Slade," the swinging ``Long Time Gone" and careering set closer ``Sin Wagon."

The ladies closed out strong with a stripped-down rendition of ``Travelin' Soldier , " featuring just the three of them singing their warmest, closest harmonies , and spirited runs through Bob Dylan's stomping ``Mississippi" and their own ``Ready to Run."

Whatever the fallout may be from their refusal to behave in the polite ways expected of country musicians, it has translated into some of the freshest music to be infused with the spirit of rock 'n' roll. As an audience member , seeing those Nashville chains fall by the wayside looked as liberating as it must feel.

Dixie Chicks feed on crowd’s love

By Nancy Sheehan, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

BOSTON— You can never call them “the Dixie Chickens.”

After igniting a publicity firestorm in 2003 when lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush at a London concert, the Dixie Chicks have gamely hit the road again with their “Accidents and Accusations” tour amid pockets of lingering criticism and a few cancelled tour dates. While anti-Chicks sentiment has stifled some shows, ticket sales have been brisk for others, mainly in the northeastern U.S. and Canada.

Such was the case for Saturday night’s stop at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. There were only a smattering of empty seats, mostly in the luxury boxes where — please excuse us — the well-financed supporters of George Bush perhaps might go to see a show.

This wouldn’t be the one for them.

Maines remains unrepentant for her remarks, made on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A song from the group’s latest CD says it all. Titled “Not Ready to Make Nice,” it describes her still-smoldering anger at the landslide of slings, slams and verbal slaps she received simply for stating her views. When the Chicks performed that song Saturday, the first few notes were greeted with an uproar of an entirely different sort from the supportive Garden crowd — enthusiastic cheers and applause.

“The Long Way Around” is the title cut of their new CD. Maines introduced it by saying “This is a song about how we live our lives and how we make the fantastic career decisions we make.” The Dixie Chicks rose from relative obscurity in 1998 to become one of the most popular acts in contemporary country music. “The incident,” as Maines usually refers to it, put the brakes on a bit. But, politics aside, Saturday was musically satisfying even if time and tribulation has dimmed slightly the group’s once-electrifying stage presence.

Still, there is something special about the harmonic convergence of Maines and fiddler Martie Maguire and her banjo-picking sister Emily Robison. The sisterly harmonies were heavenly on gentle tunes such as “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Top of the World.” Those were among several arena hits of the past that the group performed. Other crowd pleasers were the murderous he-had-it-coming hit “Goodbye Earl,” “Landslide,” and what Maines said was the group’s favorite song from the past, “Wide Open Spaces.”

Ably rendered bluegrass breaks and several songs from the new CD filled out the bill, including “Lubbock or Leave It,” “Everybody Knows” and “I Like It,” the seventh song of the night, which a now warmed-up Maines, a little girl with a Texas-huge voice, sang with clarity and conviction.

Overall, the sound was big and guitar-rich — usually electric but always with an acoustic guitar or two to lend sweetness to the mix. A resounding boost came from the flawless nine-member backup band headed by guitar ace David Grissom, a Bob Dylan lookalike (young Bob, that is) who has worked with everyone from John Mayall to Chris Isaak and the Allman Brothers.

But it was just the three Chicks for the first encore, “Travelin’ Soldier,” with Maines playing guitar to complement the banjo and fiddle. The band came bounding back for the show closer, “Ready to Run,” and with that the Chicks ran off to another musical garden, Madison Square Garden in New York, the next stop on their engaging, intrepid tour.

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