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The new man in black does it a new way

Berklee Performance Center, Boston, Mass., Oct. 24, 1999

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - Clint Black, circa 1999, is different than what recently passed for the Man in Black.

Instead of veering more and more away from his swing and country roots towards a pop country sound, Black laid off the electrics in recording his strong new album, "D'lectrified." There's nary an electric guitar on the album, which includes some new material and artiststhat influenced him in music.

And now on a short tour of the States, Black is eschewing the large concert halls for small settings.

And what a difference those changes make as Black performed a strong generous, 2 1/2-hour show of new and old material at the nearly sold-out 1,300-seat concert hall.

Decked out in - what else - all black - Black was in great vocal form throughout. His baritone easily ploughed through song after song whether ballad, mid-tempo, more country oriented or more pop oriented.

But what came through more than ever was Black's personality. Large concert halls don't allow Black to engage with crowd as much. in banter and back-and-forth comments.

Black introduced many of the songs during the 75-minute first set comprised of material from "D'electrified." It was a down-home, easy going style sprinkled with a good amount of humor as well.

The highlight was his current hit single "When I Said I Do" in which wife Lisa Hartman Black stepped out behind the curtain for the song. While it could have been reduced to schmaltz, sparks flew between the two who just celebrated their eighth anniversary four days earlier. While better known as an actress, Hartman did have a singing career at one point and certainly can sing quite well.

Black also accorded himself quite well on Leon Russell's "Dixie Lullaby" the Marshall Tucker Band's "Bob Away the Blues" and a take-off of Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Waylon Done It This Way."

The playful side came through on a song introduced as "now for something completely different," Galaxy Song" of Monty Python fame. Very cute.

The second set was a run through Black's greatest hits, plugged-in fashion, including such standouts as his first hit, "Better Man," Burn One Down," "Killin' Time," "Put Yourself in My Shoes," and The Eagles' "Desperado." Black's veteran crack outfit was abetted by a three-piece horn section, which added a nice touch.

Black generally kept it country, but sometimes the music was too loud.

About the only out-of-place song was when percussionist Steve Real sang Steely Dan's "Josie." Not a bad version of the funkified song, but it just didn't mesh with the rest of the evening.

And this year's version of Clint Black is indeed quite a treat.

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