Concert Review: George Strait and Reba McEntire

Country superstars George Strait and Reba McEntire brought their highly anticipated tour to Phoenix’s US Airways Arena on Friday night and did not disappoint the sold-out crowd.

The tour, unofficially dubbed as the Tour of the Decade, finally brought the King and Queen of country music together. After opening the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium last year, the pair decided to take their show on the road along with opening act Lee Ann Womack.

Womack opened the show with a short 30 minute set that included hits such as “Last Call,” “I Hope You Dance,” and “Ashes By Now.” She also threw in covers of “Help Me Make it Through the Night” and “San Antonio Rose” which showcased her love of traditional country music. Womack was a good choice to open the show, even though it took her a little while to get her voice pitch perfect. The only flaw with her set is that she didn’t include any songs from her superb album, There’s More Where That Came From.

After a short 15 minute intermission, the four video screens above the in-the-round stage showed clips of Reba throughout her career including clips of music videos, movies, and her sitcom tv show. She walked onto the stage wearing a sleeveless, sequiend shirt and black slacks and started singing her first number 1 hit, “Can’t Even Get the Blues.” Throughout her 90 minute set, Reba sampled many songs from her large catalog ranging from older classics like “That’s the Night When the Lights Went Out in Georgia” to newer hits like her recent number 1 song, “Consider Me Gone.”

The highlight of McEntire’s set was when she delivered the tearful ballad, “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” after telling the story of how her father failed to show his love for children, even though they knew he loved them very much. Another highlight was the medley of her hits “Somebody Should Leave,” “For My Broken Heart,” and “Does He Love You?” which Lee Ann Womack joined her onstage for. The two did a phenominal job at building the tension of the song by singing at opposite corners of the stage and meeting at one end to belt it out.

While introducing the song “I’m a Survivor,” the theme song to her hit sitcom Reba, co-star Melissa Petterman suprised the crowd and joined Reba onstage for a comedy sketch which ended with both Petterman and Reba singing the song. Afterwards, Reba ended her main set with the classic “Is There Life Out There” which drew a standing ovation from the crowd. After a quick change into a sexy, shimmery, red dress, she entered the arena in a small cab to perform her signature hit, “Fancy.” The performance was a crowd pleaser which had the entire arena on their feet and dancing along. At 54, Reba proved she can still keep up with the younger generation of female country music artists.

After a flashy set by McEntire, country legend George Strait had the hard task of following, but he certainly handled it with ease. After strolling onto the stage, Strait began with his hit “Twang” and continued with the song “I Hate Everything.” It was easy to see that Strait has a history with the location because he made note that he opened the arena back in 1992, which explains why he continues to perform here instead of the newer Arena.

Throughout his 2 hour set, King George played many fan favorites including “The Chair,” “Fireman,” and “Ocean Front Property” (which garnered loud applause with the mention of Arizona).

Strait also showed off his impressive vocals on ballads like “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “I’m Not Her Cowboy Anymore,” and the recent Grammy nominated hit, “Living for the Night.” He offered up newer hits like “I Got to Get to You” and “Akansas Dave” (a song which his song Bubba wrote).

The set’s climax came at the end where he offered up the biographical “Troubador” and his usual set ending “Unwound.” Both sounded great because of his talented and long-time band, the Ace in the Hole. Strait and his bandmates left the stage and returned for a 3 song encore which included the all-Spanish song, “El Rey,” an impressive cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and his traditional good-bye song, ” The Cowboy Rides Away.”

The crowd in attendance was definitely treating to a night of traditional country music, something that’s lacking on today’s radio stations. If you have a chance to catch this tour, it’s worth the pricey tickets.

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