"It's almost devious how much these guys sweetened and tune their songs up, close to the point of an almost automaton-like perfection. Each song is custom-built like a souped-up hot rod, with almost no flourish or guitar vamp going to waste."Craig HlavatyAlan Jackson, Reliant Stadium, March 4:
"Jackson has always been neck-and-neck with George Strait when it comes to keeping the honky-tonk flame alive in a contemporary Nashville context, and the mini-set of Jim Ed Brown's 'Pop a Top,' 'Tall, Tall Trees' and Merle Haggard-ish 'Who's Cheatin' Who' showed he still knows his way around a sawdust floor."Chris GrayMiss Leslie with Heather Myles, Under the Volcano, March 4:
"With Sloan and Myles bringing all they had, the only downer of the night was the disappointing crowd. Who knows, maybe H-Town just ain't country anymore. Whatever is going on, there's just no excuse for a no-cover charge show of this quality to be this sparsely attended."William Michael SmithDerek Trucks Band, House of Blues, March 5:
"According to audience member James Perkins, who stood by Aftermath for part of the show, the quiet leader with the long blonde ponytail is also cosmic. 'His music is so high-end and brilliant, it's almost from a different planet,' he noted. 'Some of it flies over my head, but it just soars. And it's got balls.'"Bob RuggieroSolange Knowles, Gladys Knight, Reliant Stadium, March 6:
"The backup singers donned throwback hairdos, and their girl-group choreography was on point, yet none of that seemed to help Solange's sub-par singing and exaggerated hair flouncing. She managed to belt out her rendition of 'Shout' with some finesse, but for much of the show sounded like a school girl singing in front of the mirror with a brush."Amina RiveraErykah Badu, Arena Theater, March 6:
"Her "Way Back" medley of first-generation hip-hop hits ("Rapper's Delight," "Friends," "Ladi Dadi") whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy, and she dedicated "Me" - her slow-cooking funk symphony from last year'sNew Amerykah: Fourth World War
- to "my girl Carolyn Farb," who was in the front row.Chris GrayThe Jonas Brothers, Reliant Stadium, March 8:
"I am a seventysomething who has to review a teen band I never heard before. That was deal I made to get the tickets. But if your granddaughter is ten, you want her to like young guys with a squeaky clean image - no sex, no drugs - even if they did perform at the Bush White house twice."Allen MatusowLady Antebellum, Reliant Stadium, March 9:
"It seemed like other bands' songs elicited a response equal to or greater than Lady A's originals, but, to the trio's credit, who doesn't like to hear an unexpected classic that nearly that nearly everyone in the crowd knows done well?"Melanie PangToby Keith, Reliant Stadium, March 10:
"And for someone whose clever, creative music videos have helped him become a CMT icon - 'How Do You Like Me Now?' and 'I Wanna Talk About Me' spring to mind - Keith's stage presence is almost zilch. Basically he just stood there, hat pulled low over his eyes, strumming his guitar or hunched over the microphone like he hadn't eaten in a week and it was one of those giant rodeo turkey legs."Chris GrayReba McEntire, Reliant Stadium, March 11:
"It's the reality in McEntire's songs that bring folks back every year to the Rodeo to see her. Tuesday night, in front of mostly female crowd at Reliant, she came out looking every bit the 'Queen of Country' that she is."Craig HlavatyThe "Beatdown at Baybrook," Baybrook Mall, March 13:
"We actually got inside the store to take a few pics during the Hematidrosis set, before a mall security guard pulled us aside and took down our driver's license information. Apparently one cannot take pics at the mall, from what Paul Blart told us."Craig HlavatyDarius Rucker, Reliant Stadium, March 15:
"He got the few album tracks out of the way to dig into the Hootie stuff, which got whoops and hollers from all over the scattered crowd. 'Let Her Cry' has turned even twangier the second time around."Craig HlavatyClint Black, Reliant Stadium, March 16:
"Black came across as a grinning, congenial cross between Boz Scaggs and Merle Haggard. Not bad for a guy who's seen his share of icehouses (outlined in 'Nothin's News,' a tribute to his dad), married a Houston-born Hollywood actress and is unafraid to bust out the Steely Dan in front of a stadium full of hometown fans."Chris GrayBilly Joel & Elton John, Toyota Center, March 19:
"Almost every one of the 35 numbers played (save a couple of ones Joel announced 'we used to call album cuts') were massive record hits and FM staples, triggering unembarrassed crowd singalongs. Any hipster sullenly bemoaning that the only radio they like involves Thom Yorke would have been pummeled in a maelstrom of suburban fists of fury."Bob RuggieroTaylor Swift, Reliant Stadium, March 20:
"'I've never seen so many people before,' Swift said to the crowd. She set a record-breaking attendance of 72,658 just above the Jonas Brothers - which might be especially satisfying for her, considering 'Forever and Always' is about her ex Joe Jonas."Thomas RundleZZ Top, Reliant Stadium, March 22:
"The trio tossed in twangy covers of Johnny Cash's 'Get Rhythm' and Hank Snow's 'I'm Movin On' before closing out with the patented power-boogie of 'La Grange' and 'Tush.' After half a week of hipster hell, it sure was nice to be back in the land of turkey legs and funnel cakes."Chris GrayChris Cornell, Warehouse Live, March 29:
"Cornell is as much of a restless spirit as his panther-like pacing onstage indicated, and while he can burn dinosaur bones with the best of them on steam-shovelers like 'Rusty Cage,' 'Cochise,' 'Like Suicide' and especially 'Outshined,' it's his less metallic diversions that make him one of the most interesting, charismatic singers in rock."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"No one gave a damn that she didn't sing one single lyric on her own. And as if to thank us for our loyal support, after all the years and the antics, she rounded off the performance with classics like '...Baby One More Time.'"Allison Bagley