Reba McEntire RodeoHouston, Reliant Stadium March 9, 2012
A Reba McEntire concert is like visiting your really fun aunt, except not all aunts wear rhinestone-covered go-go boots and had a hit TV show on the WB network for a better part of the '00s. Plus, most aunts can't get away with singing what is possibly the catchiest song about child prostitution in modern musical history.
Friday night at RodeoHouston was a wet one, with drifting thunderstorms falling onto the Reliant complex for the better part of the evening. The rain wreaked havoc on the do's of the mostly female audience and making great use of those seldom used western wear dusters preferred by the fair-weather cowboys that came out to kick off their weekend with McEntire.
This was the country superstar's first visit back to RodeoHouston since her 2009 set, which I also covered for Rocks Off. There wasn't much happening new this time around, but McEntire's crowd, and myself for that matter, aren't looking for much more than a precious hour of music with the lady and her hits.
Coming out to "All the Women I Am", from the title track from her 2010 album, McEntire already had the crowd rather sewn up from the first 30 seconds.
Most people in Houston haven't seen McEntire in a live setting aside from RodeoHouston, and they are quite honestly missing out on a spectacle. Her last show in the area, a January 2011 co-headlining gig with George Strait at Austin's Frank Erwin Center featuring costume changes and even a taxi car to go with set closer "Fancy".
Her RodeoHouston shows are sadly abbreviated, but come concentrated with crowd-pleasers, so there can't be any complaint. Her setlist, from "Is There Life Out There?" to "Whoever's In New England", is a nonstop nostalgia trip. She even slips in "I'm A Survivor", the theme song from her WB sitcom about halfway through.
One thing, though, that always strikes me seeing McEntire, or any other older female country artist for that matter, are the strong doses of strength and self-reliance they exhibit. The toughness is there in spades, and even manages to affect even the men in the crowd. I was surprised as anyone to realize I knew the lyrics to her "Consider Me Gone" by heart.
It's a far cry from the woeful lyrics that make up most modern female country, which hell, surely sells. Besides Taylor and Miranda, I can't think of many other gals who are dominating stages without the help of two males.
Like I wrote back in '09, "Compared to girls less than half her age, she shows infinitely more swagger and grace than four Swifts and an Underwood slapped together. It's those hips and that condescending stare she gives in her songs that will always win out over youthful crossovers."
McEntire is not a throwback by any means; if anything, she's a template for everyone to go by in 2012.
Personal Bias: I think most country-inclined guys my age have had a mega-crush on McEntire since at least Tremors, if not the video for "Why Haven't I Heard From You". Never underestimate the power of tall red hair, mom jeans, and a sneer.
The Crowd: A pretty mixed bag of groups of women from the same family, possibly three four generations, and flamboyant boys nestled in to see the sassy McEntire. As with most rodeo shows, you can also tell it's date night.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "The animals in the petting zoo are like strippers."
Random Notebook Dump: McEntire's single "You Lie" from 1990 still packs a punch.