Late last year the Dixie Chicks, a band I have loved since I first discovered them in the late 90s, announced that they were reuniting and touring for the first time since 2006. I was really excited. After a quick survey of my friends who either didn’t know who they were (foreigners), laughed at me (yankees), or were otherwise uninterested (everyone else), I decided that I would not let this opportunity pass me by and decided to purchase a ticket for myself, deciding to go alone, and patiently wait several months until the Chicks would finally make their way to Madison Square Garden on June 13th 2016 (which would fall a few days after my birthday, thus making it a special birthday treat for myself).
Finally the date arrived. And I was really looking forward to it.
I got to Madison Square Garden a little early and was treated to a couple of somewhat forgettable opening acts. The first was a young country-pop singer named Josh Herbert, who sang nasally and every song was named after either a US state or city, which was pretty funny. Luckily he only was on for 15 minutes, the venue swallowed him up whole and I will likely never hear of him ever again. Following whatshisname was a British band named The Heavy, they weren’t bad, and their style was a little bizarre, mixing rock, funk, and pop but with a weird 70s horror soundtrack vibe. They tried a little too hard, asking a stadium full of people who had never heard of them to sing along and do the choreography – they either were enthusiastically hopeful or thought they were more well known than what the reality actually was. Either way, they were on for a half hour and then were gone.
Finally the time had come for the main act, the only reason we were all there for: The freaking DIXIE CHICKS!!!
One thing that made this show that much more of an anticipation was the fact that the audience would be familiar with pretty much every single song. The Chicks haven’t released an album since 2006 (hopefully that changes soon), and this tour was not in support for new music, therefore rendering the experience a party celebrating the great music that had made us all fans in the first place over the course of four fantastic and unforgettable albums: Wide Open Spaces, Fly, Home, and Taking the Long Way. All four albums, along with some covers, were fully represented, along with the Chicks’s great energy, flawless vocals and instrument playing (each going through several instruments throughout the concert), and some fun pocking and humor to boot.
The show started out a little slow, with some of their lesser known songs and a Patty Griffin cover as openers. I somewhat expected and thought they would open the show with “Long Time Gone” simply because it would have been appropriate, but I guess that would have been too on the nose. They did play it, but a bit later in the show, opting to open with “The Long Way Around” from their fourth album. Pretty early on in the show they dedicated a song to Prince, who recently passed away, performing his hit song made even more famous by Sinead O’Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U” while behind them a TAFKAP symbol hung and the entire stage was drenched in a purple hue.
The show really got going with “Goodbye Earl” (one of my favorites). While performing the song, behind them flew images of women, victims of domestic abuse (as is the theme of the song), and known abusers and wife-killers or otherwise sexist and womanizing men (including OJ Simpson and Donald Trump).
After a short video interlude, which included a wardrobe change (according to Natalie Maines, their first one ever on tour), and a set restricting the girls were back. They played a stripped down version of “Travelin’ Soldier” and followed it with a fantastic, better than ever could be expected, bluegrass southern yeehaw cover of Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” – a highlight of the show and it fit in perfectly with their music, this version was better than Queen B’s, in my humble opinion. Keeping things going once the momentum was high, some major hits started to roll through. “Ready to Run” was performed while funny animations of the worst of this election year’s human trash ludicrously appeared behind the Chicks was truly hilarious, culminating in a confetti shower that brought everyone to their feet (if anyone was still sitting down, which is debatable).
They sang a Bob Dylan cover “Mississippi”, the Fleetwood Mac song that they had claimed years earlier on Home “Landslide” was as beautiful as ever, and they ended the show with three of their biggest hits: “Cowboy Take Me Away“, “Wide Open Spaces“, and the always fantastic “Sin Wagon”.
After five minutes of screaming and cheering, the Dixie Chicks came back on stage for an encore. First up was their middle fingers raised to a society that threatened them for speaking their minds “Not Ready to Make Nice“, which still resonates a decade later, and everyone was ecstatic. Next up was a cover of Ben Harper’s “Better Way”, which had me in tears. The Orlando massacre had occurred less than 48 hours earlier and the shooting was heartbreaking and painful; it’s easy to feel hopeless and helpless after such an occurrence. It was very cathartic, then, to see 15,000 people cheer at the site of rainbow flags and open demonstrations in support of the LGBTQ+ community. It was a fantastic way to close the show. It moved me and made me an even bigger fan of these amazing Chicks, who I really hope continue to rock for years to come and make a new album already!!!
(My only gripe? They didn’t perform “Cold Day in July” and “Without You” which are maybe my absolute favorite songs of theirs, but hey, it was so great it is just a very minor complaint.)
- The Long Way Around
- Lubbock or Leave It
- Truth # 2 (Patty Griffin cover)
- Easy Silence
- Favorite Year
- Some Days You Gotta Dance
- Long Time Gone
- Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince cover)
- Top of the World (Patty Griffin cover)
- Goodbye Earl
- Video Interlude: Ace of Spades (Motörhead cover)
- Travelin’ Soldier (Bruce Robison cover)
- Daddy Lessons (Beyoncé cover)
- Whitetrash Wedding
- Bluegrass instrumental
- Ready to Run
- Mississippi (Bob Dylan cover)
- Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- Silent House
- Cowboy Take Me Away
- Wide Open Spaces
- Sin Wagon
- Not Ready to Make Nice
- Better Way (Ben Harper cover)