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Reba is in tip-top shape

Hyundai Pavilion, Devore, Cal., June 18, 2005

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

No matter how many times Reba McEntire's face graces our TV screens, whether as an award show host or the star of her own sitcom, such numerous extracurricular activities will never take anything away from her primary artistic selling point: That being a spectacular singing voice. And her unique vocal instrument was in tip-top shape tonight in concert.

This three-artist show, dubbed by opener Terri Clark as the "two hats and a red-head" tour, concluded with Reba's supremely confident singing display. And nobody sells a song better than she. It mattered not if she was getting a little gospel-y with "Love Revival," or tapping into the tear ducts through "He Gets That from Me."

No matter the setting, Reba appeared to be perfectly cast for the role. Both of the aforementioned tracks, by the way, were taken from her recent "Room to Breathe" release. She also performed that CD's current single "My Sister" while accompanied by touching visual screen images of various sisterly pairs. The only complaint is that she relegated that album's relatively traditional single, "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain" to a mere snippet in a medley.

Reba's special singing style was best framed in ballads like "You Lie" and "Whoever's In New England," where she took her audience on a twisting and turning road, which somehow always reached its intended destination. Her tightly rehearsed band and brightly lit stage presentation may have been a little too Hollywood for country music purists, but this talented woman's undeniably fine vocalizing never failed to please.

Brad Paisley preceded Reba with a strong hour of charming mainstream country favorites. This opening slot was weighted toward his humorous side, but because he's such a naturally funny guy, this tactic worked to perfection. At one point, he was even accompanied by an animated segment titled "The Adventures of Superband," which cast Paisley in the superhero role.

He opened with "Celebrity," and closed with his "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" song. And even though he momentarily forgot a few words to the serious "We Danced," nobody really seemed to mind. Induced giggles cover a multitude of since, one supposes.

Clark mentioned between songs that she had been trying on wedding dresses earlier in the day, and that she hadn't even worn a dress in the past eleven years. But with her salty tongue and saucy songs, she certainly didn't come off like the dress wearin' type this evening. She may not aspire to be a diva, like Reba, but her easygoing rapport with the audience immediately endeared her to this crowd.

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