Tim McGraw Reliant Stadium March 7, 2011
Tim McGraw is the essence of modern country. Last night, he appeared onstage, donning boots, a big-ol', Texas-sized belt buckle, a red, white and blue plaid shirt and a dark black cowboy hat. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and he kept them there all night.
From the start of the show, fans were eager to dance along to McGraw's catchy lyrics advocating the Southern lifestyle set to pop-country melodies. He sang of women and miniskirts, barbecues and fishing, love, marriage and children. He's an old-fashioned, southern gal's dream, and he makes men want to be cowboys.
"It's good to be back in Houston, Texas," McGraw said from the stage. "Y'all look good... and man, them Texas girls are something else, aren't they?"
Unsurprisingly, the crowd screamed in agreement.
"This next one's from way back in 1996," McGraw said. "I hope y'all remember it... I hope I remember it!"
His next three songs, just like the first three, were played back to back to back, without interruption. They were upbeat, twangy and light-hearted. Then he changed the feel of his set entirely and brought the crowd to its feet with the gritty, rebellious anthem, "Indian Outlaw," a song that makes men feel manly and women swoon.
The heavy riffs of "Outlaw" weren't the only reason fans rose from their seats. During the next song, "I Like It, I Love It," McGraw left the stage and began slowly walking toward the side of Reliant Stadium as everyone on the west end of the arena rose to their feet, anticipating the handshakes and high-fives McGraw would undoubtedly give them.
He even made a point to pound fists with a few young boys who could barely see past their sisters and mothers, who were crowding the gates as the country icon walked around the field. McGraw spent three whole songs offstage, getting his boots dirty as his fans screamed in appreciation and chanted along to his songs.
Some even got the chance to scream into the microphone as he held it in front of the crowd while sauntering around the field.
McGraw finally made his way back to the stage as "Real Good Man" came to a close, though the song ran a good three or four minutes longer than its album counterpart on account of the singer's desire to shake hands with and give hugs to as many fans as he could.
Once he was back onstage, the band began to play "Don't Take the Girl," which soothed the crowd back into a relaxed vibe, as McGraw belted out some of the saddest lyrics we have ever heard. The song is about a boy and a girl; in the first verse, an eight-year-old boy is going fishing with his dad and begs him not to take the girl with them; in the second verse, 10 years later, the same boy and girl are walking home from a movie when a mugger grabs the girl and asks the boy for his wallet.
The boy begs the robber not to take the girl; and in the third verse, five years later, the girl is giving birth, and the doctor tells the boy that the girl might not make it. The boy begins to pray and begs God... well, you get the idea.
It happens to be one of the only country songs that can make Aftermath's eyes swell. Make fun if you want to, but we're not embarrassed to admit that music can bring about a little emotion in us... from time to time, that is.
After "The Cowboy In Me," a fitting finale for a man whose persona is as cowboy as it gets, as the band onstage continued playing, McGraw bowed, waved and smiled in a way that could only be genuine, thanking his many adoring fans as he exited the stage. It was the end of a solid performance by, from what we can tell, is one hell of a solid individual.
Personal Bias: You know that bass solo in 'I Like It, I Love It'? Yeah, that's our jam. Show some love for the ever-underappreciated bassists, people!
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Overhead in the Crowd: "I heard on NPR the other day that one in seven divorces involves claims backed up by Facebook." Seriously, America? Come on.
Random Notebook Dump: Mutton bustin', in which 5- and 6-year-olds hold onto the backs of sheep as they dart toward the center of the field, may be the most adorable activity involving children we've ever seen. It's not nearly as creepy as those eTrade commercials, which send shivers down our spine.