Review by Heather Ducharme
The Chicks came to entertain. Sleek set design and monochromatic black and white staging put the focus squarely on what the fans came to see – three country stars and the band that backs them. For a group that hasn’t released a new album in a decade, they were able to draw a crowd that was varied in age and all enthusiastic. The Dixie Chicks delighted fans with hits and deep tracks, as well multiple covers spanning decades of songwriting. Natalie Maines (lead vocals, guitar), Emily Robison (banjo, guitar, vocals), and Martie Maguire (fiddle, vocals) played for close to two hours to a packed house in London, Ontario.
There is no doubt as to why this group is the top-selling all-female band, and biggest-selling country group, in the U.S. They are musicians first and foremost, and activists second. The focus on instrumentation, and acoustic breaks with covers arranged by Robison and Maguire, as well as the stage set adjusted to bring the Chicks close to the edge of the stage for the middle of the show allowed each musician to showcase their incredible talent. The trio switched instruments frequently, and demonstrated talent on all of them. Highlights of the show include rock updates to old favourites such as “Long Time Gone” and “White Trash Wedding”, easy sing-a-longs to “Landslide”, “Travelin’ Soldier”, and “Cowboy Take Me Away”.
Although the 2003 incident in London England is the most notorious of their statements, the Chicks have always spoken clearly about their views through their music and media. This show was no exception. Photos depicting domestic violence victims and perpetrators throughout the 20th Century played while the ladies said “Goodbye Earl”. Many song choices reflect the focus the Dixie Chicks have always put on freedom of speech, such as “Truth #2” (Patty Griffin cover), Something in the Air (Thunderclap Newman cover), and “Better Way” (Ben Harper cover).
This tour has been well received by critics and fans alike, and there is no doubt as to why. They know how to keep their music fresh and relevant – or rather their music stands the test of time, as do their abilities as musicians. As has always been the case – their music speaks for itself.
All photos by Paul Barrie
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