Last night I went to a Dixie Chicks concert. It was a sensational, high quality performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It was staged at the Rod Laver Arena usually a tennis centre, but also used for large concerts. I would not normally go to concerts at arenas, preferring initmate venues, but I made an exception for the Dixie Chicks. I booked through some mob called Preferred Seating in the expectation of getting good seats. By good seats I mean one or two rows from the front. Even though we paid extra for the privilege of getting tickets from this source, we were disappointed in the seats we were allocated. I will never use Preferred Seating again. They’re a rip off.
Anyway, the concert was worth the money and at least we could see the stage, albeit from rather a greater distance than we would have preferred.
For the Dixie Chicks it was full house, the audience being a mixed bunch but all very appreciative of the show. They were polite and respectful as most Melbourne audiences are.
Unless you’ve been off the planet for the past few years, you would be aware of the troubles the Chicks have been facing after lead singer Natalie Maines made an unwise comment about President Bush stating she was “ashamed the President of the United States was from Texas”.
As a prelude to their show, they played a trailer of a new documentary “Shut Up & Sing” which follows the aftermath of Natalie’s comment. It really is extraordinary, this reaction to the band. It is out of proportion to the mildness of the statement. They received death threats, their CDs were trashed, and mainstream radio banned them from the airwaves.
George Saunders ( a very fine and funny writer) has an amusing satire about this reaction on his website. You can read it here.
Anyway, back to the show.
Australian audiences have no qualms about welcoming the Dixie Chicks with open arms and the Chicks gave it back in spades.
They played all their best-loved songs, like "Goodbye Earl", "Wide Open Spaces", "Travelling Soldier", "Top of the World", the sassy "Sin Wagon" as well as songs from their latest CD Taking the Long Way such as "Lubbock or Leave It", "Not Ready to Make Nice" and the title song, among others.
They are a great live act and even if I was sitting rather further from the stage than I like, I still felt involved and captivated. It was impossible from where I was to take good pictures of the stage, so I cheated and took photos from the big screen.
Above is Natalie Maines, who is the major star of the band and holds it all together, and besides has a truly remarkable voice. This photo is of Emily Robison (I like the backward composition of this shot).
This was my second time seeing the Chicks perform live. I first saw them in 1999 at a much smaller venue. They were just taking off for stardom at that time, touring to promote the aptly named CD Fly.
The support act last night was another American singer, Pete Yorn, who was pretty good too.