Halifax showers Chicks with affection
By Jim Reyno,
The Daily News
REVIEW - The cheers were repeated, the affection palpable, the message clear: the Dixie Chicks were
among friends last night.
During Ready to Run, the band's final song of the concert, lead singer Natalie Maines thrust
her miked hand at the jubilant Metro Centre crowd for a duet. About 9,000 or so obliged, but they'd been obliging all night
- singing along with the slow songs and stomping with the kickers.
And the signs fans brought to the Metro Centre said
it all: "Natalie 4 Prime Minister;" "HFX (heart) DCX." One fan held a small sign that simply said "Thank You," while another
said something about Canada and free speech.
You may have heard a thing or two about the Dixie Chicks catching some
flak in the U.S. for comments about President George W. Bush.
"I gotta tell you," Maines told the crowd early in the
show, "It is nice to be in a country where you're not worried about them spitting in your face."
It took awhile for
the ovation to subside.
Another lengthy ovation occured during Not Ready To Make Nice, the band's response to the Bush
controversy. The climax of the song describes a death threat Maines received. She nailed the vocal and the crowd erupted.
from the political overtones, the Chicks and their excellent backup band (with up to as many as nine players) were hard-hitting
musically last night. Rock-style drumming on several songs added oomph. Long Time Gone and the abused-wife liberation anthem
Goodbye Earl were especially sharp.
Which is not to say this was a rock show. The Dixie Chicks ballads were surprisingly
intimate (Metro Centre ain't exactly the Village Vanguard). Landslide and Cowboy Take Me Away were stand-and-sway favourites
of the mostly - just mostly - female audience.
And Lullaby, written, according to Maines, "after we got the mad-as-hell
stuff out of our system," was remarkable. The tension and subtlety of the CD version was duplicated live, complete with a
majestic Martie Maguire fiddle solo.
After that, the Dixie Chicks really went to work, and downtown went hoedown. The
breakneck bluegrass jam White Trash Wedding had everyone on their feet clapping, and the instrumental Li'l Jack Slade kept
the tempo brisk.
Not Ready To Make Nice followed, which brought the most vocal, emotional support from the crowd.
the Dixie Chicks had them all the way. They were there at the end of the regular show, when Maines threw her pick into the
crowd and shook a few hands in the front row, and they were still there after the final encore.
They were there before
the show even started. People were on their feet cheering before the Chicks took the stage - to the recorded sounds of Hail
to the Chief.
DIG THOSE CHICKS
• WHAT : Accidents & Accusations tour
• WHERE : Halifax
• WHEN : Last night
• ATTENDANCE : About 9,000 (estimated)
• WARMUP :
The good-humoured Bob Schneider and his band played an engaging opening set of seven songs.
• HIGHLIGHTS : Midway
through the concert, the Chicks followed the stunning, restrained Lullaby with two high-energy bluegrass kickers — White
Trash Wedding and the instrumental Li’l Jack Slade.
• BACK FOR MORE : The Dixie Chicks will play their
second show in Halifax tonight.
They’re not just whistlin’ Dixie
yes, but Chicks’ fans revel in boundary breaking show
By STEPHEN COOKE,The Halifax Herald
there was any doubt that The Dixie Chicks are fast leaving the country music mainstream behind, the trio of songs that played
on the sound system at the Halifax Metro Centre before they took the stage on Tuesday night let us know that there would be
a slight detour around Nashville. I don’t expect you’d hear Van Halen, Heart and The Flaming Lips prior to the
start of a Faith Hill show.
Then the lights dimmed, and the strident tones of Hail to the Chief came out of those same
speakers, as the trio and its nine-piece backup band took to the stage under cover of darkness. It was hard to stifle a grin
at the gesture, given singer Natalie Maines’ well-publicized comments about the man who normally marches to the beat
of that tune, and the band’s opening number Lubbock or Leave It, with its lyrical quips about Southern hospitality,
drove the point home.
The Dixie Chicks’ decision to add more northern dates to its Accidents and Accusations
tour proved to be an apt one in Halifax, as the sold-out evening at the Metro Centre (the second show takes place tonight)
proved to be lovefest for the band, with waves of enthusiasm pouring from the largely female audience in the direction of
the stage. The excitement in the room was palpable after the honeyed harmonies of the more traditional honky tonk of Truth
No. 2, from 2002’s Home, while the revenge drama Goodbye Earl had the entire arena dancing, clapping and singing along,
threatening to drown out the band entirely with its infectious "na na na" chorus.
"Well hello!" declared Maines, in
a rare moment of chattiness (trio members Emily Robison and her sister Martie Maguire barely said a word between songs). "It
is nice to be in a country where you are not worried about spitting in your face."
For the most part, the group preferred
to let the music do the talking, like the upbeat, rootsy The Long Way Around off its latest album Taking the Long Way, which
Maines said "explains our philosophy, and how we live our lives" with lyrics about finding your own path, and not following
the easy road. Then a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide spoke of growing older, but maintaining a vital stake in what
life has in store.
Bandleader David Grissom’s chunky Telecaster riff led into a slice of Motown-style soul on
the new tune I Like It, co-written by The Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, a prime example of how the group has been stretching
its stylistic legs successfully. But they didn’t give older material short shrift, as Larry Knechtel’s rolling
piano and Maguire’s fiddle on the intro to Cowboy Take Me Away generated instant cheers.
Getting out her Omnichord
— "the dorkiest instrument there is, with the banjo a close second" — Maines shone on the new song Lullaby, "written
after we got all that mad-as-hell stuff out of our system." With a simple, evocative fiddle solo by Maguire, the song proved
to be one of the show’s biggest highlights. The same was true of Easy Silence, a beautiful tune with a stunning arrangement
involving violin and cello, about love shutting out the outside world.
The group ended on a strong note, with the driving
country beat of Long Time Gone and a rousing Wide Open Spaces, before a warmly received encore including the poignant Traveling
Soldier — a song that’s more apt than most people would like at the moment — and Bob Dylan’s Mississippi,
which could serve as a rebuke to those who’ve abandoned the band in recent years. Based on Tuesday’s high voltage
show, those people are better off left in the dark.