Friday felt like a celebration of Tim and Faith's careers and lives, but not quite a party.
Friday felt like a celebration of Tim and Faith's careers and lives, but not quite a party.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

21 Years Later, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Still Stun Together

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Chris Janson
Toyota Center
October 6, 2017

Have you ever considered what you’ll be doing on your 21st wedding anniversary? Confession: I haven’t, but unless my life goes in directions I can’t even fathom, I don’t think it’ll be with a couple of thousand folks in a basketball arena. (Apologies in advance, Allison.) But when you’re Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, that’s just how you live your life. They are a couple that is the very definition of “we’d hate you if you weren’t so likable.” Seriously, how do two people so talented, so charismatic and so pretty end up together?

The night felt like a celebration of their careers and lives, but not quite a party. There were bursts of energy here and there – “Real Good Man” being the highlight of McGraw really cutting loose – but for the most part, things stayed pretty even energy-wise, never really getting out of first gear. There were plenty of hits to be had, but this was not a night of “Down on the Farm” or “Truck Yeah.”

Friday was not a night for "I Like It, I Love It" or "Truck Yeah."
Friday was not a night for "I Like It, I Love It" or "Truck Yeah."
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

It’s not hard to see what the duo were going for with their show. It had all the hallmarks of your average arena tour: giant screen, lasers, moving set pieces, weird video interludes. Basically, everything you expect at a big arena show was there in full supply, exactly what you think you’re getting when you put your money down for a ticket.

Thing was, none of it was really needed. Most of the time the big pop extravagance just sort of got in the way of what I think the headliners really wanted: to connect with the audience. They paused for selfies, shook hands, walked around in the crowd, signed a hat, pointed at people in the crowd and the like, and every time they did something like that, the crowd would roar. It was all very engaging, which made the weird moments of “we need to stand in place for this song so we don’t mess up the stage show” stick out even more.

Still, the crowd had a good time, like you do when two megastars of a genre share a stage together. It’s almost unfair in a way, the way real life adds extra gravity to a song. “Break First” was a total killer, one of the best things I’ve seen live all year. Their team-up on “I Need You” was the one time the stage show (figuratively and literally) rose to the level of their chemistry, Hill breaking into laughter being another highlight of the show.

“Break First” was a total killer.
“Break First” was a total killer.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

Most people, you’ve got to think, would probably take their anniversary off. But when living your best life means going on tour with your partner, why not celebrate with a bunch of strangers you’ll end up trying to make feel like family? The show might not have always worked, but Hill and McGraw, as they have for 21 years now, did.

So, How Was the Opener? Chris Janson was incredible. One man, one kick drum, one guitar and a whole mess of harmonica made for a whirlwind of songs that celebrated small-town life, doing the right thing and Mountain Dew. It was wildly enjoyable, his enthusiasm for what he does being apparent before he played a note. With a platinum single to his name, he’s probably too big to play any of the more intimate spaces here in town, but if he did it would be something people would talk about for months.

Personal Bias: Tim McGraw only played about half of “I Like It, I Love It” and I thought that was a bummer. Faith Hill didn’t play the Sunday Night Football song, and that’s probably for the best.

McGraw and Hill took selfies with the crowd and even signed a hat.
McGraw and Hill took selfies with the crowd and even signed a hat.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

The Crowd: Mostly couples who left the kids at home for the night, dressed in the Rodeo-lite outfits.

Overheard In the Crowd: “You’re not playing, right? Because I don’t [edit] around with my car being towed!” yelled a lady in one of the parking lots near the venue to the guy on duty.

Random Notebook Dump: There’s a particular shade of pink and blue that when shown together are about the most ‘80s thing I can think of. I jokingly refer to them as “the vaporwave colors,” and every show, no matter who, uses them. Even country music’s power couple. It’s fascinating how we all gravitate toward certain things.

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