Nashville, TN 2006
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Prodigal Chicks return triumphantly to Nashville nest

By Peter Gilstrap for The Tennessean

It’s safe to say that fans of the president located themselves someplace other than the Gaylord Entertainment Center Friday night; either that, or they sure kept mighty quiet. In any case, the people who composed the near-capacity crowd for the Dixie Chicks’ triumphant return to Nashville made it abundantly clear whose side they were on.

Over the course of two hours of perfectly paced music, the Chicks no doubt were responsible for thousands of weary leg muscles out there in audienceland. They stomped, they stamped, they stood—many for the duration of the show—as the controversial trio did (for the most part) what their recent documentary exhorts them to do: shut up and sing.

Just a few songs into the set (after taking the stage to the strains of “Hail to the Chief”), the group lit up the inspired “Goodbye Earl,” certainly the “Hey Jude” of murder-by-poison songs, and had the audience in group-sing mode. At song’s end, quip-slinging singer Natalie Maines greeted the faithful:

“We didn’t have to cancel the whole South. It’s nice to be back,” she said, as the place went somewhere a bit beyond nuts. “I guess we’ll play a few songs between my comedy routine.”

She wasn’t kidding. Maines and her co-Chicks, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, poured on the musicianship, applying their impressive chops to an arsenal of stringed instruments while weaving seamless harmonies that ranged from lilt to belt. And they looked good too, these women. Suffice to say, the Chicks have eyeliner and stilettos and they know how to use them.

But it was the music — all that stuff you’ve stopped hearing on the radio — that won the night. Among so many memorable songs, the Chicks offered a lovely take on Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide,” a smoldering version of “Top of the World,” and the jacked up “Sin Wagon.”

And, by the third and last encore, “Ready to Run,” it was clear that the Chicks had touched Americans on a level beyond politics, perhaps beyond even music. As Maguire turned to exit the stage for the final time, there came a desperate female cry from the seats in the shadows: “I want your shoes!”

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