(Still) 'Not Ready to Make Nice'
By Scott D. Lewis for the Oregonian
SUMMARY: Dixie Chicks The women aren't about to hold their
tongues after a 2003 political barb.These days, the Dixie Chicks are a little bit country and a lot rock 'n' roll.
they are still no fans of George W. Bush.
The Texas trio nearly filled the Rose Garden arena Thursday night --and proved
why the band is the biggest-selling female group in history.
In high-heel cowgirl boots and outfits blurring the line
between trashy and classy, the Chicks took their marks in front of a nine-piece powerhouse band, including Portlander and
Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed.
Then the band dove into the cleverly titled "Lubbock or Leave It," a full-force
rock song from its latest album, "Taking the Long Way."
That song and others, such as the stinging "Not Ready to Make
Nice," proved that the Dixie Chicks are not about to hold their tongues or back down from lead singer Natalie Maines' 2003
statement that the band was embarrassed to be from the same state as the president.
Despite the fact that many fans
in the audience held up signs saying they are embarrassed to be from the same country as Dubya, Maines only made one overtly
political aside, saying, "I take it you're in such a good mood 'cause the Democrats took over the Senate today. Rumsfeld is
gone --only two more years and the last one will be out of there."
While the political controversy that enveloped the
Dixie Chicks (not to mention the death threats, canceled concerts and shunning by right wing-controlled radio) may have made
a mountain of press for the band and clearly served as fodder for more material, it sadly stole from the fact that its members
are remarkably talented musicians.
Maines plays guitar with confidence and purpose and has a voice perfectly suited
for country-rock. Martie Maguire sounds like she was born to play the fiddle, and sister Emily Robison handles the banjo with
ease and grace.
Simply staged and modestly lit, the two-hour show was all about the Dixie Chicks' talent, and the crowd
ate it up.
Highlights included the energetic and timeless Americana of "Goodbye Earl," the charged-up bluegrass of
"White Trash Wedding" --on which the Chicks harmonized like the Andrews Sisters on a moonshine bender --and the down-home
country feel of "Long Time Gone," where they really poured on the fiddle and banjo.
Despite the Chicks' vocals being
somewhat eclipsed by the booming band at several points, and although their brand of rock-infused country began to show its
sameness, the crowd was right there with them till the end, on its feet and singing along with the hopeful "Ready to Run."
the band left the stage, Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back" blared from the sound system. Meaning? That's for each to decide