Last Night: Vince Gill At Arena Theatre

Vince Gill Arena Theatre January 27, 2011

Nashville superstar and Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill spent his Thursday hanging with former President George H.W. Bush, but that and four margaritas didn't keep Gill from laying down a note-perfect, immaculate 28 song tour de force at the Arena Theater last night.

Opening with a roadhouse-ish version of "One More Last Chance" and immediately jumping into the stone-cold honky-tonk of "Take Your Memory With You," Gill wasted no time showing the crowd that he wasn't fooling around or taking Houston lightly. And there was no doubt that he knew he was in Texas.

And, as he switched guitars, he grabbed the crowd immediately with his first comment of the night about the rotating Arena Theater stage: "The drag about playing a show like this is you can't scratch your ass all night long."

From there, Gill and his eight-piece ensemble knocked their way almost effortlessly through 28 songs in a two-and-a-half-hour show that was the equal of Dwight Yoakum's November 2009 Arena date.

It was a textbook big-time country music show without any of the macho bullshit that usually accompanies the latest Nashville heavyweights on tour. Gill may be the most humble and gracious major entertainer Nashville has produced in the last quarter century.

And while Gill's amazing voice and Danny Gatton-like picking were on display throughout the show, it is his Oklahoma good-old-boy between-song patter that truly endeared him to the throng. For instance, shortly after he plowed through the only nominally bluegrass tune of the night, "The High Lonesome Sound," a woman in the front row hollered out "Vince, kiss me."

During the next tune, the woman's significant other left his seat and placed a note at Gill's feet. When the song ended, Gill picked up the note, read it, and put it in his pocket.

Playing the moment with perfect comic timing, Gill shook his head and said, "I'm not going to tell you what this dumbass wrote on that piece of paper."

The audience responded with cries to read the note. So Gill says, "He wrote please kiss her so I'll get laid tonight."

And just as the laughter died, Gill said, "Buddy, if I kiss her you sure ain't gettin' laid tonight.."

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William Michael Smith