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The Judds build bridges together

The Pond, Anaheim, Cal., March 2, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

ANAHEIM, CA - It may have been nine years since the mother/daughter team of The Judds last toured together, but little has changed since their last road trip. Naomi's still the pretty one, and Wynonna is clearly the best singer of the two.

Wynonna has established an up and down solo career since this break in the action, which is why much of this night's set list was taken up by performances of her hits. But the crowd was clearly here to see these two as one again.

As the best selling duo of all time, The Judds have more than enough hits to fill up a concert. Nevertheless, it's still amazing they ever got to be as popular as they are. Duos - whether brothers, sisters, lovers or others - are plentiful throughout country music history, but mother/daughter teams are few and far between.

Also, when evaluating their music on its own merit, they really aren't anything special. Their voices don't combine into uniquely compelling familial harmonies, such as The Everly Brothers or the Louvin Brothers. In fact, Wynonna's big soul singing often times nearly eclipses the quiet singing of her mom.

Instead, the bond these two have formed - through good times and bad - attracted approximately 20,000 people.

Interspersed between sets of songs, these ladies narrated photo clips and home movies on the arena's big screen. Each one was dedicated to a different Judd: One to mom, one to Wynonna and one to Ashley, the actress, who is really the third Judd in spirit, even though she doesn't record with the other two.

This show opened with The Judds backed by a choir, and Naomi and Wynonna coming up from the back-center of the stage, and walking down to meet again at the center of the stage. That first song, not surprisingly, was "Love Can Build A Bridge."

As a combo, the Judds equally mixed ballads with upbeat numbers. But even though there were more than enough songs with good beats, numbers like "Have Mercy" and "Girls Night Out," none had nearly the edge nor the soul power of Wynonna's solo songs.

She turned it up on "No One Else On Earth" and emphasized her wild side atop a motorcycle while singing "Wyld Unknown."

The night's most poignant moment came with the performance of "Grandpa (Tell Me 'bout the Good Old Days," which was sung from the back of the hall on a second stage. There, The Judds were right in the midst of their fans. As they finished singing the repeating chorus of this song about how times have changed, they walked back to the stage, taking their time as the shook hands with as many fans as they could reach.

If love built any bridges this night, it would have been the link that was reestablished between The Judds and their fans.

Jo Dee Messina, who opened, brought with her a bundle of energy. Nevertheless, she came off best when slowing things down, as with the hit ballad "Because You Love Me."

She stumbled - figuratively speaking - when attempting to spice things up with the Latin-based "Get Up And Dance." Messina's true gift is her sincere charm, and this song contained absolutely none of that.

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