St. Louis, MO 2003

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Not A Peep Of Protest Greets Dixie Chicks

St. Louis
 
It'd take a lot more than some beating around the Bush to stop more than 19,000 fans from coming out to see the Dixie Chicks Sunday night at Savvis Center.
 
The show sold out before singer Natalie Maines told a London audience she was embarrassed to be from the same state of President Bush, setting off the ire of fans and country-music radio stations, including those in St. Louis. Some wondered whether irate fans would demand ticket refunds, how loud boos might be at the concert and how many protesters would march outside venues.

Some boos and protesters were seen at some of the tour's earliest dates, but things seemed back to normal for the St. Louis show, except for the presence of a stifling amount of extra security in case anything out of the ordinary happened (it didn't).

St. Louis clearly is still in love with the Dixie Chicks. The only boos heard were when, shortly after the excellent Fleetwood Mac cover of "Landslide," Maines addressed the crowd as Kansas City, though she quickly tried to clean it up by saying she was joking.

Though St. Louis proved to be a safe haven for the Dixie Chicks, the popular country trio still addressed the quieting controversy. Dixie Chick Martie Maguire was the first to make a reference about a third of the way through the 90-minute show. "Congratulations, St. Louis. There wasn't one protester out there tonight," she said, grateful for what she called an all-new appreciation for fans here. She said St. Louis fans aren't fair-weather friends. "We knew you would come."
 
While introducing the Patti Griffin song "Truth No. 2" from the group's latest CD, "Home," Maines (sporting an outdated punk look) said, "In the last couple of months, something has happened to us." As a result of those experiences, she said she now understands every word of the song, which opens with the lyric, "You don't like the sound of truth/Coming from my mouth." Accompanying the song was what looked like vintage protest video.

Another reference came when Maines questioned whether she might be revealing too much in her short skirt. She then reminded the crowd that they'd already seen her naked (on a recent cover of Entertainment Weekly).

Controversy aside, the Dixie Chicks delivered an undeniably irresistible, slick show that never faltered in its excitement from the opening song, the murderously whimsical "Goodbye Earl," to the finale, the rambunctious crowd-pleaser "Sin Wagon."

The sprawling stage set, in the center of the arena floor, was full of catwalks, platforms, stairs and audience pits, which required the group to be mobile and play to different sections of the audience. Consecutive songs were hardly ever performed on the same spot.

The group kept the crowd hyped with songs such as "There's Your Trouble," "Some Days You Gotta Dance" and "Ready to Run." Laid-back bluegrass tunes "Long Time Gone" and "Tortured Tangled Hearts" and country ballads "A Home" and "Travelin' Soldier" (the song most affected when country radio pulled the group's music) were calmer efforts.

Maguire and Emily Robison, on fiddle and banjo, respectively, displayed their ample talents throughout, but they especially came through on the humorous "White Trash Wedding" and the instrumental "Lil' Jack Slade." The strings-laden, cinematic "Top of the World," an album cut from "Home," came with a video not seen previously; Maines said they were the only group to shoot a video for a song that might not be a single.

Support act Joan Osborne joined the Chicks for "God Help Me." Osborne's career has quieted since she exploded with "One of Us" from her 1995 CD "Relish." She disappeared from the chart-topping position she held back then, though her talent remains fully intact.

Her soulful, bluesy voice reigned on songs like "St. Teresa," "Only You Know and I Know," Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today," the Bob Dylan-penned "To Make You Feel My Love" and, of course, "One of Us." But the Dixie Chicks' oversized set was too much for Osborne's more quaint presentation.
 

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