Omaha, NE 2006
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Chicks willing, able to make nice in Omaha

By Niz Proskocil for the World-Herald

Dixie Chicks frontwoman and Texas native Natalie Maines sparked a controversy in 2003 after telling a London audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

The Dixie Chicks, from left, Emily Robison, Natalie Maines and Martie Maguire, drew 8,000 fans to the Qwest Center Omaha Tuesday night.

The comment may have earned the band some enemies, but there was nothing but love for the Dixie Chicks at the group's concert Tuesday night at Qwest Center Omaha.

The Grammy-winning country-pop trio brought its nationwide "Accidents & Accusations" tour to a fiercely loyal crowd of 8,000 fans, which cheered them on during a performance that featured 22 career-spanning songs.

Moments after a short set by singer-songwriter Pete Yorn, the movie trailer for the Dixie Chicks' provocative new documentary, "Shut Up & Sing," was shown on a huge screen above the stage, revving up the audience.

Nearly 40 minutes later, the crowd rose to its feet, clapping and cheering wildly as the Chicks and their nine-piece touring band arrived onstage to a snippet of "Hail to the Chief."

The group opened the show with the rollicking country-rock tune "Lubbock or Leave It" from the band's latest album, "Taking the Long Way." The song includes the line "I hear they hate me now, just like they hated you."

After performances of "Truth No. 2" and feisty crowd favorite "Goodbye Earl," Maines addressed the audience.

"I'm very glad that you showed up," she said to boisterous cheers. "If I think of anything hilarious or brilliant to say, I'll say it."

While the group's opposition to the war in Iraq has made headlines, political statements took a back seat to music in red-state Nebraska.

In addition to several new songs ("The Long Way Around," "Easy Silence" and "I Hope"), the band played a number of older hits, including "Long Time Gone" and its version of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," both from 2002's "Home" album.

With Maines at the mike showcasing her powerful, soaring voice, bandmate Martie Maguire played the fiddle with gusto on "Cowboy Take Me Away." Maguire's sister, Emily Robison, strummed the banjo with passion and precision on the foot-stomping, instrumental bluegrass tune "Lil' Jack Slade."

Throughout the show, the predominantly female audience danced, sang and clapped along as the Chicks performed with energy and enthusiasm for nearly two hours.

Maines' dedication of "White Trash Wedding" to ex-Mr. Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, generated huge laughs. The trio's top-notch harmony vocals bolstered "Lullaby," during which hundreds in the crowd held up their cell phones, illuminating the arena.

The group drew one of the biggest responses of the night with a defiant "Not Ready to Make Nice," in which Maines sings: "And how in the world can the words that I said send somebody so over the edge? That they'd write me a letter saying that I better shut up and sing or my life will be over."

The concert closed with a three-song encore that featured the solemn "Travelin' Soldier," an exuberant cover of Bob Dylan's "Mississippi" and the lively "Ready to Run."

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