artina McBride has earned a reputation for being one of country music's finest natural vocalists. She's the petite woman with the big voice. The season opening night audience at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts gave McBride a spontaneous standing ovation for her powerful vocal performance on "A Broken Wing," near show's end. It was a well-deserved response. However, it was the consistent substance and relevance of McBride's songs that transformed this concert into a most memorable night.
McBride opened with "Love's the Only House," a song that's sort of a country version of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love." The only antidote for pain, this song reminds us, is a love as big as a house. Tonight, she dedicated "In My Daughter's Eyes" to her three daughters, who were all in attendance, sang "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" for anyone one - and there are many - who have been touched by this song's message of encouragement and then counted her own blessings with "Blessed."
Although it's been a few years since the release of "Reckless," McBride's most recent studio album, she still found room to perform tracks from that project. The best of which was "It Ain't Pretty," a beautiful brokenhearted bar song that previously found a place on Lady Antebellum's "Golden" album. Its lyric is desperate, and desperately sad. McBride transformed her cover of Lynn Anderson's "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden" into an audience sing-along, while all the while engulfed in falling rose petals on the behind-stage video screen.
McBride encored with "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which she dedicated to the late Aretha Franklin, and a cover of Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man." Even her cover song choices distinctly sidestepped anything resembling fluff.
McBride said from the stage how she believes concerts are intended to make memories, and with the many thoughtful songs packed in her set, this popular artist combined a strong singing voice with equally strong songs, for an unbeatable combination.