by Tara Merrin for the Calgary Sun
loss is definitely Canada’s gain when it comes to the Dixie Chicks. Country music and liberal politics certainly make
for strange bedfellows, so it’s not surprising the less-than-conservative Dixie Chicks — Texans Martie Maguire,
Emily Robison and Natalie Maines — are steering towards an edgier rock sound and away from the twangy genre that made
But what made them infamous also led to low ticket sales and cancelled U.S. dates.
During a 2003
concert in London, Maines declared: “We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”
death threats to low ticket sales and CD-burning parties, the Chicks have paid dearly for that off-the-cuff remark.
of hanging their heads in shame and begging for forgiveness, the group embraced its outlaw status.
And their fans,
in Canada at least, are loving it.
Instead of low ticket sales here, the Chicks signed on for two ’Dome shows.
the sold-out crowd’s enthusiastic response to footage of the group’s documentary Shut Up and Sing, which played
on the big screen, was not surprising.
Nor was the similar reaction when they walked on as Hail to the Chief played.
the next two hours, they delivered a powerful show highlighted by their instrumental genius and im-pressive vocals.
harmonized their way through tracks from their new album Taking the Long Way.
Highlights included the songs Lullaby,
White Trash Wedding and a haunting cover of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide.
The loudest cheers came when the band kicked
into their mission-statement tune Not Ready to Make Nice, in which Maines sings: “I made my bed and I sleep like a baby.”
the Chicks may rub some people the wrong way, after seeing them live, it’s hard to believe their political views could
have turned off so many fans.
Dixie Chicks fired up and feisty
by Heath McCoy for the Calgary
Dixie Chicks performed a sold-out show at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Sunday night. Attendance: 15,000.
to take in a Dixie Chicks show these days without getting sucked into the political firestorm burning in their backyard.
if you happen to be bored to tears with the controversy at this point -- which is by now over three years old -- that's a
drag, because, whatever your politics are, this Texas trio is easily one of today's greatest country bands.
scorching musicians and spirited entertainers.
There was no doubt about that Sunday night in Calgary, at the first
of two nearly sold-out nights at Saddledome.
On song after song, the Chicks, accompanied by their eight-piece backup
band, were outstanding.
Their spunky, rollicking ode to poisoning an abusive husband, Goodbye Earle, was a ball.
anthems such as The Long Way Around and Everybody Knows were irresistible.
Their take on Fleetwood Mac's Landslide
was gorgeous, with feisty vocalist Natalie Maines paying Stevie Nicks a moving tribute.
Sweet and teary ballad Cowboy
Take Me Away tugged heartstrings all over the 'Dome.
All the while, the stunning sisters, Martie Maguire and Emily
Robison, traded the hottest licks back and forth, on fiddle and banjo, respectively.
But it's never long before there's
some reference -- usually just in passing -- to "the incident," as it's referred to in Chickville.
That goes back to
early 2003 when Maines criticized U.S. President George W. Bush in the lead-up to the country's invasion of Iraq.
exercising her freedom of speech, Maines faced an insane, idiotic backlash -- which included death threats -- from conservative
wing-nut types in the United States.
Good on the band for having the guts to stand their ground.
years later, it seems it's only the Chicks themselves who are hellbound and determined to keep this blaze burning.
night, in between the Chicks' set and a performance by their excellent opening act, Bob Schneider, the band played a trailer
for the upcoming documentary, Shut Up And Sing.
Guess what that's about?
"I couldn't figure out how to shut
up and sing, so I decided to talk a lot and sing," said Maines to an uproarious response from her adoring, predominantly female
The Chicks hit the stage, it's well worth noting, to the strains of presidential theme Hail To The Chief
(a bit provoking, wouldn't you say?) before blazing through the rocking, righteous slam of conservative Bible-belt hypocrisy
on Lubbock Or Leave It.
They followed this up with one of the best songs in their canon, the poignant and rebellious
Truth No. 2.
Later in the set, the Chicks played an impassioned version of Not Ready To Make Nice, their musical response
to the controversy, which sounded much more powerful live than on record.
Keep in mind, the Chicks have also been harping
about "the incident" of late to Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and in Time magazine, where they levelled low blows at the country
crowd -- millions of whom still supported the band.
The Dixie Chicks are milking the controversy for it all it's worth.
hurt them in the United States as far as concert attendance goes.
Here in Canada though, the Chicks are more popular
Indeed, they now have fans here, based on their scrap with the forces of Dubya, that they would have never
At press time, after tearing up the stage to the wild, boot-stompin' Sin Wagon, the Chicks were just
back for their encore, which included their tender, acoustic take on Travelin' Soldier.
To be sure, the Chicks are
coming off as rather preachy these days. But about 15,000 fans were loving their gospel just the same.