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McBride gets intimate

Lydell Clay Theater , Morgantown, West Va., January 12, 2013

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Martina McBride had to take a mulligan last year here when she was rescheduled due to a conflict with a University of West Virginia home football game. In a town where football is king, they finally got to see the queen of country.

Having just wrapped her six-week "Joy of Christmas" holiday stint, the "Eleven" tour resumed. The set has been predictable, but she threw a few welcome curveballs during the two-hour show. Only 3 songs in, she broke out 1995's Cry on the Shoulder of the Road. McBride has taken to playing more intimate venues after the arena tour with George Strait in 2012.

The 1,500-seat theater was one of the smaller ones. It was filled to near capacity, but with an uncharacteristically mellow crowd. Dressed in a sexy, but always tasteful leather ensemble, she emerged with a huge smile and opened with the catchy One Night.

She revealed her only performance weakness early on during the rocking intro of Blessed. Her dance moves are syncopated to the point of being off beat. The result is an awkward swirl and bounce. Then again, no one comes to see her dance.

The band was tight as usual. Guitarist Greg Foresman is one of the more underrated players in the genre. He can play everything from heavy blues riffs to delicate textures high up on the fretboard with equal aplomb.

In a surprising moment, McBride acknowledged a fan in the front row with a sign asking if she could duet on Anyway. "Missy" was quickly ushered onstage and did an astounding job. McBride let her take some of the song's signature high notes. She had little problem keeping up with the singer's legendary power and drew a small ovation. Stagehands confirmed post show that it was not a setup as the mics were not previously adjusted for the stranger's voice, and the song was not on the set list.

With the focus back on the star, the show resumed with the classic (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden. It began excellent four cover mini set that included a hybrid of The First Cut is the Deepest and Tom Petty's Free Fallin.'

As always, McBride closed with the mind blowing knockout combination of A Broken Wing and Independence Day, exiting to a deafening standing ovation. There will be no rest for the weary as she will join George Strait for "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour in Texas on Jan. 18.

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