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Concert Reviews:
Martina McBride Logs "Happy" Tour Opener At DTE

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2008

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Martina McBride was a "Happy Girl" on Friday night (July 11) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, and with good reason.

The country star was back on the road, playing the first concert of her first-ever headlining tour of amphitheaters. It was ostensibly to continue supporting her gold-certified 2007 album "Waking Up Laughing," but with just three songs from that set the 95-minute concert was more of a trip through McBride's 16-year recording career -- and through her own past.

Silhouetted against a light wall on the stage, McBride -- dressed in a black sequined T-shirt, black jeans and high heels and sporting baseball-sized hoop earrings -- started things on an up note, declaring "It's My Time" before rolling into the heartland-style country rockers "When God Fearin' Women Get the Blues" and "Happy Girl." "Whatever You Say" slowed things down for a minute, while "For These Times" was accompanied by video footage of DTE patrons signing messages on a board positioned at the theater's entrance, ranging from calls for peace and love to "Free Fancion Stinger" and "Martina For President."

The rest of the show had a slightly thematic ebb-and-flow, with McBride and her band -- which includes younger brother Marty Schiff on rhythm guitar -- in much better than first-show form. She dipped into the '70s Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" ad into her '80s rock roots for covers of Patty Smyth & Scandal's "The Warrior" and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" -- and, during the encore, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " (substituting "born and raised in Detroit city" for the non-existent south Detroit). The child abuse lament "Concrete Angel," meanwhile, started an extended set of serious "message" songs that included "Anyway," "Love's the Only House" (on which McBride played harmonica), "Where Would You Be" and "A Broken Wing," with "This One's For the Girls," which makes its own kind of statement, situated in the middle.

"Independence Day," however, rekindled the celebratory tone of the evening and left McBride able to notch a solid opening night in her belt.

Her opening acts helped set the tone, too. "Nashville Star" 2006 winner Chris Young played his hit "Drinkin' Me Alone" and showcased "Voices," the first single from his forthcoming sophomore album, during his 20-minute set. And Texas singer-songwriter Jack Ingram, still basking in the glow of his Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Male Vocalist (10 years into his career, mind you), delivered a raucous 45 minutes of chart hits such as "Measure of a Man," "Barbie Doll," the chart-topping "Wherever You Are" and his version of the rock band Hinder's "Lips of an Angel."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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