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McBride's pipes power the show

The Roxy, Boston, May 30, 1996

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - Martina McBride's world is not exactly cushy.

Love is not ushy-gushy - it has its pitfalls (to wit, the title track of her most recent fine album, "Wild Angels") to be sure, but there is hope as well (the hit "Safe in the Arms of Love") about matters of the heart. Perhaps most importantly, the Kansan sings from a point of view of strength, not necessarily assuming the role of the vanquished woman.

And in concert, that strength came through exceedingly loud and clear in song and even more outwardly vocally in a show picking up steam as it went along.

Through her three-disc career, McBride has demonstrated a penchant for picking strong material and making it come alive on disc. In fact, she was one of three-producers on her last two releases.

Those songs always make excellent use of McBride's pipes. She can come through whether on ballads (her current single "Phones Are Ringin' All Over Town" about a woman finally leaving her man) or the uptempo (the rocking "Two More Bottles of Wine," a two-decade old song courtesy of Delbert McClinton, and a departure for McBride).

McBride was able to convey a sincerity in her vocals, which became ever apparent in the second half of the show. After introducing half her band, McBride seemed to turn it on with the tender "Cry on the Shoulder of the Road," somewhat akin thematically to Patty Loveless' "Nothing But the Wheel."

A rendition of "When Will I Be Loved?" showed her the natural successor to Linda Ronstadt, easily belting out the song.

There was no fooling around on her career song, "Independence Day." The track, which deservedly won several awards, focuses on child abuse and its fiery repercussions. McBride was dead on, thankfully not doing an exact rendition of the recorded version. The song won McBride her biggest applause of the night from the semi-filled room.

Now, if only the first half was as strong. There was no problem with the singing, but at times McBride lets her mannerisms get in the way. It was as if she had gone to acting school to get the gesticulations just so.

When she got the crowd to sing along to the chorus of "The Way That I Am," McBride said she had done it in concert a few times. Sorry, but that's rather hard to believe.

And in the country tradition, McBride diverged very little from the albums on several of her hits ("Life #9"). To her credit, however, McBride offered a stripped-down, acoustic version of "She Ain't Seen Nothing Yet."

At 70 minutes, the concert felt short. In her defense, McBride just took on a new drummer and bassist two shows earlier, so their knowledge of her repertoire was limited. But one would have liked to hear far more of McBride.

In reality, that's a positive for a singer of great strength in more ways than one.

Daryle Singletary opened the show with a generally satisfying 35-minute set. Singletary clearly is in the Randy Travis school of country. He even produced Singletary's first disc.

Singletary certainly has some quality songs ("Too Much Fun" amd "There's a Cold Spell Movin' In") and can sing the ballads real well. But his segment seemed to lack spunk behind a generally faceless band. In his defense, Singletary was confined to a chair since he broke his leg in an accident on a four-wheeler two weeks ago.

The verdict is out, but Singletary could be a comer.

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