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Lambert injects music as medicine

Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, R.I., February 2, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Miranda Lambert already drank the music Kool-Aid a long time ago, but she is now spreading the gospel of the benefits of music on her tour. Starting with quotes about music from the late gospel singer Sister Rosa Tharpe along with a video of her singing, Lambert played old and brand new in an evening that grew better and better as the concert wore on.

It would be fair to say that Lambert has endured her tough times on the personal side with her very public split with ex-husband Blake Shelton over not entirely clear private reasons (not that that's anyone's business). But Lambert has always seemed a bit on the vulnerable side. Her emotions have come through loud and clear, if public tears are any indication.

Lambert seemingly has been one of those performers who takes a bit of time to find her comfort zone and groove live, but once she did, she didn't move from that perch.

Lambert's concerts have always differed from her recordings where the vocals are crystal clear, and the country influence is far stronger. Here, she tended to rock more as usual, though a beautiful, quieter song like "The House That Built Me" more than fits the live bill. When Lambert let her voice shine such as on "Over You" and a stronger live reading of her hit single "Vice," the concert was in gear.

Lambert played about eight songs from her excellent recent double CD, "The Weight of These Minds." It's a muscular work of 24 songs. The new material is varied musically just as Lambert has been on recent recordings. There's traditional country, rock, some reggae-inspired songs (the cutesy, but very positive "Pink Sunglasses," which shows a light side of Lambert as well as her sass).

Quite simply, far more of the album would have been most welcome. And truth be told, Lambert certainly could have squeezed in more songs as she played just over 80 minutes. Lambert certainly has enough material to play a longer set that would easily hold up.

The crowd - definitely tilting female - would have gone for it also as Lambert seemed to feed off the support and energy of the crowd.

Lambert closed with a single song of an encore, "Tin Man" from "The Weight of These Things," sung solo acoustic. Prior to starting, Lambert said that she "truly believed" in the power of music as medicine. In fact, just after the show concluded, those very words flashed on the backing screen.

Chances are that for Lambert, music fills the bill towards healing. For her fans, chances are that their Lambert-infused drink was just the right tonic as well.

Old Dominion turned in a muscular middle act set that underscored that they are more of a rock act with a bit of a soulful, funky edge at times than anything resembling country.

It sure helps to have hit singles to anchor the set, opening with the catchy "Snapback" and ending the night with "Song For Another Time." Old Dominion is a well-oiled machine, but that did not mean this was a by-the-numbers outing. Lead singer Matthew Ramsey acquitted himself well on vocals. He doesn't have the widest range, but he is a good match for their material. And they have some strong players in guitarists Brad Tursi and Trevor Rosen, who often played acoustic.

Old Dominion played a few new songs with "There's No Such Things as a Broken Heart" the stronger of the two and the one clamored for by a woman right in front of the stage, which seemed to pleasantly surprise Ramsey.

Old Dominion may not be high originality, but they have the right kind of songs - catchy, loud and on the faster side - for an arena outing.

Opener Aubrie Sellers acquitted her set with a too-short stint clocking in at just over 20 minutes. Sellers has a chunk of quality songs on her debut "New City Blues" and tended to rock more in the large venue. Vocals were a bit lost in the mix, something that happened to Lambert as well when she rocked. Like Lambert, more of Sellers was warranted.

With one album under her belt and a strong sense of who she is musically, Sellers proved to be a welcome opening act.

And with artists like Sellers, Old Dominion and Lambert, music certainly provided the magic potion.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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