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McBride, Adkins shine sometimes

DCU Center, Worcester, Mass., January 31, 2010

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

As Martina McBride pointed out, the pairing of the country singer with Trace Adkins on their current jaunt was surprising. After all, she's of diva-quality voice, petite, non-controversial unless you call singing songs that empower women controversial. Adkins, on the other hand, has not been afraid to speak his mind with a kick butt attitude.

Or as McBride said during the concert, "To me, it doesn't seem so farfetched. We both have big voices. We both have daughters. He sings about badonkadonks. I have one. One thing I know we have in common is we both love traditional country music."

Well, the latter comment could be open to dispute among those who regard Cash and Williams in the pantheon of traditional country music because Adkins veered a lot more towards rock and McBride showed signs of that along with a pop sense at times also.

While billed as a co-headlining tour, McBride spent far more time on stage than did Adkins. McBride played for 1- hours, while, Adkins clocked in at just under 65 minutes.

Adkins served a paint-by-the-numbers performance. He has not released anything new since "X' in November 2008 and, in fact, just switched labels from Capitol to Toby Keith's Show Dog. The result was a set that proved to be a run through of the hits that got him where he is.

That's not necessarily a bad thing as he has a lot of good songs, starting with Game On. He opted for a rock sound , following with Swing and Songs About Me, about country music, although the song was more of a rocker. The best thing about the tall Louisianan is his voice - it's real deep, full bodied and with timbre to say the least.

Adkins deserves big negatives for his accompanying videos. The video for Hot Mama was only "slightly" over the top with the wife in the video transforming into a temptress supreme. You awaited her removing her sexy outfit. Next time, bag the videos (like the one for Chrome) and focus on the music.

While Adkins has proven to be quite humorous in the past, he wasn't especially funny on this evening. Nor did his personality come through. It felt more like a rushed, "been there, done that" type of gig. Not bad at all, but Adkins is capable of a lot more.

McBride always has possessed a strong voice of an entirely different sort. Though on the slight side physically, her voice has always been anything but. For a good chunk of the show, she showed restraint. Her vocals were mixed very high above the music, and hers is an expressive voice, but it wasn't until the end where she really let loose, particularly on A Broken Wing andIndependence Day, about as solid a one-two closing punch as one could hope for. The latter may be a career song from 1994 (interestingly, it never got higher than 12 on the Billboard chart), but here we are in 2010, and McBride still owns the song about abuse and infuses with a ton of emotion, not over-emotion.

McBride added pizzazz to her segment, which came in handy since most of her comments sounded very canned. However, while singing Concrete Angel, she was harnessed to a quarter moon which went in the air from the stage to the rear of the floor where she descended on a small stage for I'm Tryin' and a solidLove's the Only House blowing some harp. She then went around the crowd while singing This One's For All the Girls, letting the crowd sing snatches. This proved to be a good bonding experience with her fans.

Where McBride deserved a serious negative, however, was her choice in encore material. She may have professed to be a traditional country lover, why bother closing with Bon Jovi (Livin' On a Prayer) and Bryan Adams (Summer of '69)? McBride should plead guilty as charged to crossing over big time. The songs had no semblance of country whatsoever, straying far from McBride's and country's roots. Too bad because McBride certainly knows how to sing country (she did a good version of Kris Kristofferson's Help Me Make It Through the Night from her covers disc "Timeless.")

Label this a good, not great night of sometimes country music.

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