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Concert Reviews:
McGraw And Hill Offer Soul -- And Lots Of It -- At The Palace

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2007

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AUBURN HILLS -- The segment of progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Karn Evil 9" -- the one that goes "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends" -- was an appropriate choice as introductory music for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's Soul2Soul II show Wednesday night (July 11th) at the Palace.

It was indeed a seemingly endless show, a non-stop three and a half hours of music that started with a brief set by 17-year-old opener Taylor Swift (whose big hit is called "Tim McGraw") and then a combination of duets and separate performances -- on a tricked-out in-the-round stage -- by country's most famous couple. But that was exactly what the crowd of 20,000-plus craved on Wednesday, and some would no doubt have welcomed even more if McGraw and Hill had it in them.

The dynamic of Soul2Soul, which played two nights at the Palace last summer, remains an interesting one that tips in Hill's favor. McGraw, a rabble-rouser by nature, continued to come off as deferential to his spouse, holding back the harder rocking sections of his catalog a bit to focus on melodic, slower and mid-tempo fare such as "Stars Go Blue," "Everywhere," "She's My Kind of Rain," "For a Little While," "Cowboy in Me," the epic "Live Like You Were Dying" and the soulful "Suspicions," originally a hit for Eddie Rabbitt.

McGraw did kick it out a bit on covers of Steve Miller's "The Joker," "Last Dollar," "Real Good Man" and an interminable "Indian Outlaw." But there was still a sense he was pulling his punches a bit so as not to eclipse Hill, who certainly held her own in an hour-long set that swung towards the upbeat side of her repertoire, including "Wild One," "The Lucky One," "Sunshine & Summertime," "This Kiss," "Mississippi Girl" and a messy rendition of Big Brother & the Holding Co.'s "Piece of My Heart." Hill didn't ignore the ballads, either, giving the crowd "Cry" and "Breathe" along with an emotive take of ABBA's "The Winner Takes it All."

The seven duets remained the best portions of the show, however. Unlike last year, when they often sang back-to-back and barely acknowledged each other during the early show collaborations, McGraw and Hill were more locked into each other on Wednesday, starting the show face to face with "Chasing Cars" and hanging onto each other by the end of "It's Your Love." Swift joined them for a long run through the Bryan Adams-Tina Turner hit "It's Only Love," but the stream of people leaving the Palace, and missing the subsequent "I Need You," indicated that the show that never ends may have needed a cleaner, and quicker, conclusion.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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