Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
his was not your typical Sara Evans concert. She as much said so after her first song.
"I have never been more nervous. This is so nerve wracking. Normally, I can see my audiences, and I don't know what you guys are doing...They can be going to the refrigerator to go for a beer."
Like most of her musical compadres, Evans has not been out on the concert circuit thanks to COVID. As a result, she conceived a three-concert series starting tonight.
"This is our greatest hits night," she said. "Some songs, like 'No Place That Far,' we have not performed in years."
Evans carted out one of her biggest songs, "Born to Fly," only two songs into the 78-minute set. The song was based on Evans growing up in Missouri with thoughts of pursuing bigger and better things. She has definitely succeeded.
Evans explained the curious way the set list was devised after a very strong vocal reading of "Saints and Angels." "We decided to try to do greatest hits in a row as they were released," she said, joking "'Could Not Ask for More' was clearly a hit before "Saints and Angels,' and I would never put these together on a set list because they're both really hard."
One suspects that she typically would have been better served by closing with "Born to Fly," but, hey, this was a show where things were done a bit differently.
A chunk of Evans' song contain an upbeat message – a difficult proposition this year. "I Keep Looking" underscored that. "I wrote this song about women really because we women have a hard time making up our minds especially about what to wear, our furniture, where to live, what kind of hair we want....this is what this song is about."
"We all kind of looking for the next thing but if we think about it, life is great and we have all that we need, except for 2020, which is horrible."
In any other year, Evans' search for "something more" might make sense, but like she indicated, let it be this year – even if her steady upbeat delivery made you wish to keep on looking.
Writing a song while in a "bad mood" and "pretty bitter honestly," Evans explained the thinking behind "Perfect," another song where not everything is 100 percent. Evans' ownership of the song – far more pop than anything resembling country – came close though especially thanks to the guitar work of her son, Avery Barker.
Evans and band took the opportunity to play some songs they hadn't played in awhile. "We used to to play the song for years, and we just got sick of it, but we knew we had to play it tonight," said Evans, before lighting into the more traditional sounding. "Coal Mine." The song barely made the top 40 when it was released in 2007 from "Real Fine Place," so while not a hit on the charts, there's no need to quibble about its inclusion. The chance for Evans to show this side of her music was a smart move.
With "A Little Bit Stronger," the night only served to underscore the timelessness of songs. While the mid-tempo song is ostensibly about a relationship gone sour, Evans pointed to the strength that people need in dealing with COVID this year.
It would be hard to argue that seeing Evans on a livestream is the same as the real deal. It most definitely isn't, though Evans' delivery of the chestnut "Suds in the Bucket' and "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus" made it come close.
"That is all the hits I've had?" Evans asked jokingly before closing out with the more pop sounding "Marquee Sign," which wasn't a hit at all when released In 2017. It seems that Evans was the arbiter of what constituted a hit apparently.
While it would be better to see Evans and the overwhelming power of her voice in a truly live setting, for now, this was the next best thing.
Evans will return for "Copy That" on Friday night, reprising her new covers album, and a Christmas concert on Saturday night, both at VYE.
No Place That Far
Born to Fly
Saints & Angels
Could Not Ask for More
I Keep Looking
Backseat of a Greyhound Bus
A Real Fine Place to Start
A Little Bit Stronger – this song has helped a lot of peolpe through a lot of hard times
Slow Me Down