Washington, D.C. 2003

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Chicks Put On A Great D.C. Show

Country music trio rocks MCI Center

by Laura L. Hutchison, The Free Lance-Star

None of the fans at Wednesday night's Dixie Chicks concert in Washington seemed to care about the recent controversy swirling around lead singer Natalie Maines.

They came to see a great show, and they did.

The Chicks - Maines and sisters Martie Seidel and Emily Robison kept the fans waiting, not taking the stage until nearly 45 minutes after opening act Michelle Branch had left it. But they were worth the wait.

They blasted a recording of Bruce Springsteens "Born in the U.S.A." before opening with "Goodbye, Earl", to which the audience members sang along and pumped their fists.

The circular stage, with two areas on the sides that jutted into the audience, were a perfect setup for the trio, who worked the entire stage, making sure fans in every part of the arena got a good look at them.

Country fans used to stars wearing denim and cowboy boots were in for a surprise with the Chicks, who sang country, but dressed punk. Maine's outfit was complete with a bizarre hairdo that was a Mohawk without the shaving. It made her look as though she had a small animal sitting on her head.

But appearances aside, what the Chicks do is entertain, and they did that for sure. With a song list that included hits from all their albums, including "Wide Open Spaces", "Ready to Run", and their cover of "Landslide", they kept the crowd singing along with them throughout the performance.

Graphics on the big screens in the arena, as well as on the floor of the stage, matched well with the songs, as did flowers or grass that magically appeared around the perimeter of the stage for songs such as "Mississippi" and "Landslide".

What Maines now calls "The Incident", was referred to only briefly. Despite souvenir T-shirts that read, "Free Natalie", and the sparkling peace symbol that adorned Maines black tank top, she kept things low-key.

She landed in hot water in March when she told a London audience that the group was ashamed President George W. Bush hailed from their home state of Texas.

"Whaddaya know? Washington, D.C.", Maines said, a sheepish grin creeping across her face. "If I'm not mistaken, I believe the president of the United States lives here."

At that point, a cameraman in the crowd focused on a neon pink sign that read Natalie for President.

Maines went on to say that the group didn't know the meaning of the song "Truth No. 2", when they put it on their latest album, "Home". They just liked the song.

"After 'The Incident', it became very clear," Maines said. "Now we understand every single word."

The song, written by Patty Griffin and appearing on the Home album, includes lyrics such as, "You dont like the sound of the truth / Coming from my mouth / You say that I lack the proof / Well baby that might be so / I might get to the end of my line / Find out everyone was lying / I dont think that Im afraid anymore / Say that I would rather die trying."

Throughout the song, video played of Martin Luther King Jr., suffragettes, Gandhi and others. Between scenes, words such as truth, freedom, listen, and shut up appeared on the screen.

At one point, the audience saw the word "then", followed by scenes of a book burning and people marching with Ban the Beatles signs.

Next, the word "now" was displayed, showing a modern book burning, followed by scenes of people stomping on and smashing Dixie Chicks' CDs.

The final words shown were "Seek the Truth."

The controversy hasn't seemed to hurt the Chicks, who have sold out most of their tour, called Top of the World 2003.

And it seems, indeed, as though that's where they are.

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