Stiletto-stompin’ Dixie Chicks -- 'Not Ready to Make Nice'
By Amy O'Brian for the Vancouver Sun
The Dixie Chicks were feeling feisty Wednesday night.
Playing to a sold-out crowd at GM Place the same day
it was declared the Democrats had won a complete victory in the U.S. midterm elections, the high-energy trio was in a fast-fiddlin’,
stiletto-stompin’, good-time kind of mood.
Not that the politically outspoken trio is ever boring, but they
really seemed to want to kick up some dirt Wednesday night and celebrate the day they’d been eagerly -- and publicly
-- anticipating for nearly four years.
After working the packed-to-the-rafters crowd into a frenzy with Goodbye Earl
(a wickedly murderous tale about a woman who poisons the man who abuses her), frontwoman Natalie Maines lathered up fans by
telling them they were the best yet on the band’s North American tour.
Then she speculated why the crowd of 10,000
or so was in such good spirits.
“I get the feeling it’s one of two things,” she said. “It’s
either free beer night or you’re glad [U.S. Defence Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld resigned. Finally, a reason to celebrate
in the United States.”
The audience, which had immediately fallen silent when Maines began to speak, screamed
and hollered in agreement. Women could be seen all over the stadium wearing various home-made versions of anti-Bush T-shirts.
And the largest response of the night was to the stubborn belt-it-out hit, Not Ready to Make Nice, which clearly references
the band’s ongoing disagreement with Bush and his decision to invade Iraq.
At one point towards the end of the
show, Maines pointed into the floor-section of the audience and asked: “I was wondering if this girl in the FUGB shirt
knew this girl in the FUGB shirt. Do you two know each other?”
Then, playing dumb in a delightful way, she said,
“I like your shirt. What does it mean?”
Of course, Maines, and band mates Emily Robison and Martie Maguire,
have likely heard every George W. Bush joke or put-down out there since they ignited a fiery controversy back in 2003 when
Maines told a British audience that the band was ashamed that Bush is from Texas -- their home state. The subsequent backlash
included radio stations pulling Dixie Chicks songs from the airwaves, certain fans withdrawing their support of the band,
and even the odd death threat.
But the controversy also earned them new fans who were not only drawn to the music,
but the band’s politics.
It was hard to determine Wednesday night who was from the newer crop of supporters
and who had been there since the beginning -- since the band was made popular by songs such as Wide Open Spaces, Sin Wagon
and Ready to Run (all of which were played to the loud delight of the audience). Ready to Run was the final song of the band’s
three-song encore and its fast-paced, rock ‘n’ roll sound had Maines proving that she doesn’t tire easily.
In what appeared to be five-inch black heels, the small-framed singer beat her tambourine, turned her back to the audience
and stomped and shook her way to the end of the song -- and the end of the two-hour show -- with a fervour she seemed delighted
to finally release.
Banjo plucker Robison and her fiddle-playing sister Martie Maguire were equally energetic and
engaging throughout the concert, while the nine-piece band was perfectly tight in its support of the star performers.
band played their remarkably beautiful and melancholy version of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide, which had the mostly female
audience putting arms around each other and swaying gently to the melody.
But the love-in took a dramatic turn when the
band launched into Not Ready to Make Nice. Women turned to each other and belted the lyrics into one another’s faces.
The middle-aged woman next to me started aggressively punching an invisible someone or something in front of her. And it seemed
as though nearly every single person in that audience had hollered that song out to themselves in the car or shower at some
point because everyone seemed to know every word.
There was a massive laugh when Maines announced that she was sending
out a song to K-Fed (otherwise known as Kevin Federline) -- Britney Spears’ soon-to-be ex-husband. “Britney got
K-Fed up with him,” Maines said before launching into the fast country twang of White Trash Wedding, which got the crowd
slapping their knees (literally) and clapping like mad.
There were a few quieter moments with Lullaby and Easy Silence
-- two beautiful tracks from the band’s most recent album, Taking the Long Way.
There were no dramatic special
effects or visuals. There was no political backlash or violence during the show. The Dixie Chicks simply put on a really good
not-too-country show that seemed to leave everyone happy (and even prompted one fan to hand Maines a single yellow rose of
friendship as she was walking off stage).