Review: McEntire Tour Ends On High Note

Backstage after the concert. (L-R) Sandi Borchetta- VP Creative Services BMR; David M. Ross- Publisher MusicRow; Reba; John Zarling- Sr. Dir. New Media; and George Briner-Dir. Ntl. Promotion.

Reba McEntire’s flawless performance delighted an April 9 Louisville, KY audience at the city’s new KFC Yum Center.

Staged in the round, the Chockie, Okie redhead’s musical portion was nestled between opener Lee Ann Womack and closer George Strait. This night was extra special because it was the tour’s final date. As the anticipation for a “first glimpse of Reba” built, video screens showed snippets from a variety of the star’s many accomplishments. Included were scenes from her first major supporting movie role, Tremors (with Kevin Bacon); a variety of hit music video edits; footage from the Broadway musical, Annie Get Your Gun; and of course a few frames from her sitcom success simply titled, Reba.

Seated in the VIP soundboard seating area was producer Tony Brown, whose sharp ears nurtured many of the hits which would be performed during the evening’s show. The lights came up. Reba seemed to float down the runway onto the stage and burst into her first Mercury Records No. 1 (1984) “Can’t Even Get The Blues.”

Big Machine President/CEO Scott Borchetta couldn't resist climbing behind the wheel of the "Fancy" cab.

Then the hits kept rolling with songs like “Fear Of Being Alone,” “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” and the infectious blues romp, “Tell Me Why.” Lee Ann Womack re-appeared on stage and delivered a soaring vocal read with Reba on the 1993 smash “Does He Love You,” originally recorded with Linda Davis. Another standout was the Kelly Clarkson song “Because Of You.”

Just as it seemed time to move from ballads back to uptempo numbers, an oversized blond woman wearing a George Strait t-shirt with redneck jewels glued all over it and holding a Budweiser in her hand screamed and yelled as she ran to join Reba onstage. It didn’t take long to recognize Melissa Peterman the comedienne who played Barbara Jean on the Reba TV sitcom. Peterman, who incidentally will soon release a comedy album on one of the Big Machine imprints was outrageous. At one point George Strait talked over the speakers and Peterman made his mouth move on her t-shirt pretending she was a ventriloquist… Next Peterman and McEntire volleyed gags like two champion tennis players at Wimbledon. Peterman wanted to sing with Reba, then she agreed to sit quietly on a stool. Then she sang a line anyway. The sitcom chemistry worked nicely and Peterman exited to strong applause.

Reba regained control of her show singing “I’m A Survivor,” and one of her latest Valory Music No. 1 hits “On The Radio.” She worked the in-the-round setting smoothly, visiting with all four sides of the audience. Yes, the production was nice and yes, the lighting and sound were extremely well done. But omg–it was all about the vocals!

Perhaps there’s a reason why this country icon, Hall Of Famer, has 15 American Music Awards, 9 People’s Choice trophies, 7 CMA honors, 2 Grammys, sold over 55 million albums worldwide, appeared on Broadway plus had a No. 1 sitcom on two networks for six consecutive years. McEntire’s vocal instrument is a joy to experience. She exercises total control over her notes and phrases, and like an expert chief mixes just the right amount of vocal spice to flavorfully expose a song’s emotional heart.

In an unusual production touch, the encore embraced the most production elements of the set. Of course the song was “Fancy.” It began with a clip of the music video with the singer in the backseat of a cab. When the lights came on a real life yellow cab drove out onto the arena floor and up to the stage. A woman in a red dress got out (Reba) who climbed up on the stage and ripped into this chilling parable of loss and redemption.

The satisfied crowd screamed and applauded, cause Fancy did not let them down.

 

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About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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