By Ara Jansen for The West Australian
The Dixie Chicks may not have sold too many copies of their latest album Taking The Long Way, but these sassy Texans are
proving their music will outlast any controversy.
Singer Natalie Maines’ critical comments about
George W. Bush more than two years ago are still reverberating, but a wildly enthusiastic crowd on Friday night couldn’t
really give a Stetson about it.
They were there to hear a great set of countrypop songs — which
was exactly what they got. While thoroughly entertaining, the Chicks departed from their lyrics to launch enough salvos to
make their point. Even a screening of the trailer for the up-coming doco called Shut Up & Sing about those much publicised
“we are ashamed” comments drew supportive cheers.
With an eight-piece behind the Chicks,
the sound was full, lush and pretty much as on their records. The audience loved it and sang along at every opportunity as
three stunningly angelic and strong voices led us through almost two dozen songs.
co-written their newer songs or chosen wisely with their older ones, the Dixie Chicks catalogue is unbelievably strong. Touching,
poignant or just plain party-style songs about life, love, leaving home and being unwilling to apologise made up a rollicking
set of country pop.
Maines is the centre of the band, taking all the lead vocals, with Emily Robison
and Martie Maguire standing nearby to complete the vocal trio and mainly playing fiddle and banjo. Together they make some
of music’s most beautiful harmonies.
As they have been telling audiences around the country, they
dedicate the jaunty White Trash Wedding to actor and director Mel Gibson. “You’ve got Mel and America has us —
wanna swap?” Maines inquired to a room of cheers.
The set had plenty of highlights and of course
the controversial first single Not Ready To Play Nice was one of them. On the beautiful side was Lullaby and then the heartbreaking
going-off-towar tale of a Travellin’ Soldier.
They were a perfect contrast with sing-at-thetop-of-your-lungs
songs like Long Time Gone, Some Days You Gotta Dance, Goodbye Earl or Lubbock Or Leave It.
but no less cool was Mississippi — a jumping bluegrass-infused track written by Bob Dylan for Sheryl Crowe lamenting
that the “only thing I did wrong, was to stay in Mississippi just a day too long”.
Pete Yorn opened the show with a nod to local NJ hero Bruce Springsteen. As Dancing in the Dark quickly segued into his catchy
Life On a Chain, the audience received his unique take on pop generously.
Lifting songs from musicforthemorningafter
and his just-released album Nightcrawler he conjured up America’s most loved singers and songwriters through his easy
storytelling style and often raspy voice.
It was the kind of show which was pretty hard to fault. Great
songs, a band in top form and an audience who got everything they came for. You can’t ask for more than that.