Chicks ‘Fly' in Borgata show
By COURTNEY McCANN, pressofAtlanticCity.com
ATLANTIC CITY — The
southern states may not want the Dixie Chicks, but Atlantic City will take them in.
Maines referred to singles from the Chicks' pre-controversy albums — “Wide Open Spaces”
(1998), “Fly” (1999) and “Home” (2002) — briefly as “songs from the past,” as if
to say “Enjoy them, because we don't write that way anymore.” The group catered to longtime fans with “Sin
Wagon,” “Long Time Gone,” and the cover of Stevie Nicks' “Landslide.”
The three-woman country group
has had trouble filling concert venues, particularly in the Southern states, since lead singer Natalie Maines claimed to be
ashamed that President Bush is from Texas during a London concert in 2003. But getting people in the seats at the Borgata
Hotel Casino & Spa Event Center Saturday night wasn't a problem.
Fans dressed in jeans and sporting cowboy boots
and straw hats packed into the venue both on the floor and in the elevated seating toward the back. This was a crowd that
was ready to see the new and improved Dixie Chicks.
In the years since the London incident, the Dixie Chicks, still
the highest selling female group in any genre, tangled with miffed country music producers, radio disc jockeys and fans over
their views of the current government. Their politically charged 2006 CD “Taking the Long Way” introduces a tougher,
more defiant group of Chicks with little of the down-home, country feeling that made the group famous.
night, Maines and bandmates Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson were very definite about their split from mainstream country
to embrace a more rock 'n' roll, anti-establishment genre.
It was easy to recognize the new stuff, even for those who hadn't heard anything from “Taking the Long Way.”
Robinson traded in her customary banjo for a guitar for these songs, symbolically trading in country for rock. But the crowd
didn't seem to mind. They sang along with “Everybody Knows,” “Easy Silence” and the CD's title track
“Taking the Long Way.”
At the end of “Not Ready to Make Nice,” the Chicks' controversial, anger-ridden single that lets the world
know they aren't going to forget their detractors anytime soon, the crowd gave the group its first of three standing ovations
that it would receive over the course of the night.
But all controversy aside, these girls can sing.
With Maines in the lead, the three women harmonized perfectly, particularly during their encore when they sang the haunting
ballad “Travelin' Soldier.” Maguire outshone the other two instrumentally, whether she had a fiddle under her
chin or was plucking the strings of a mandolin.
As for the trouble-starting Maines, she decided Saturday was a night for fun, not politics. She got the crowd involved
in a bet she had with Robinson, who promised $100 if Maines could say “Borgata” 10 times while on stage. Maines
But despite their new and improved image, the Chicks couldn't help but launch into some bluegrass toward the end of their
set with “White Trash Wedding,” their ode to the redneck. What followed could only be described as a bluegrass
breakdown as Maines left the stage to Maguire on the fiddle and Robinson on the banjo.
Perhaps the country's not completely out of these Chicks yet.