Photographs by Lee-Ann Wylie

Dixie Chick’s Long Time Gone Tour still pack them in!

Watching people fill the venue it was easy to spot two things…the fans were predominately female and the most popular choice of footwear for the night was cowboy boots.

Lead singer Natalie Louise Maines Pasdar, fiddle player Martie Erwin Maguire, and her multi-talented sister Emily Erwin Robison, are back on the road for their first full length tour, “Long Time Gone”.  Since 2007, they have been away from touring. They took time to focus on family and solo careers. Now, they are back and are selling out concert stadiums across Canada.

The attendance last night showed no reflection of Maine’s disparaging comment about fellow Texan George Bush at their England concert back on March 10, 2003.  Her remarks about being “ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas” caused irreparable damage their careers. But that is old news. However, Maines was true to form in poking fun at Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford and his antics. The entire crowd was laughing when she commented, “and how about his excuse he came up with?” They then dedicated their hit tune “Sin Wagon” to him from their fifth studio album “Fly” (1999). She also joked that we Canadians also have a leader that many poke fun of! Her unspoken comparison between Rob Ford and Bush was probably in everyone’s mind at the concert!

The evening’s music started with four tunes, “I Can Love You Better”, “Wide Open Spaces”, “Am I The Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way)” and “You Were Mine” off their “Wide Open Spaces” (1998) release. It was their fourth studio album and first, with lead singer Natalie Maines, that launched them into commercial success. It was a Platinum packed performance playing all the hits you would want to hear seeded with some covers like “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, “Truth No. 2” by Patty Griffin, Travelin’ Soldier” by Bruce Robison and ending off the encore with “Mississippi” by Bob Dylan.

Maines made mention that between the three ladies they have nine children. She referred specifically of her nine year old son, Beckett and his way he speaks his mind. She said she doesn’t know where he gets that from, to which the crowd broke out in laughter. She also said how much he hated her new haircut and how she looks “uuuuuugly!” She then dedicated the next song, “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” to their children.

The ladies had all the vocals nailed. Harmonies perfect and effortless, to set the foundation for Maines’ more than powerful and sweet voice. The five piece band that backed up the Chicks was as good as they get. Even if you are not a country fan they are worth seeing! They had all the groove and stop on a dime chops you could want. Country has come a long way and taken some very big changes into the rock direction.

Some great instrumental solos from the sisters were like icing on the cake. Their stage presence was subdued, but they made up for it with their vocals and music expertise; they took a back seat to Maines.  Martie had quite the arsenal of stringed instruments in front of her and made great use of all of them as they slowly disappeared, as the show wound down.

My evening was summed up as great vocals, killer band and some funny, harmless jokes. Maines is not a real in your face front woman, but again, I didn’t even notice.  I watched a lot of fans singing along to every word, all night and having the time of their lives. This back to back Diamond Award winning Trio had everyone singing along all night. That spells a successful show and evening! Well done Chicks!

In researching I found on a CNN website:

Last week, in marking the 10 year anniversary of Maines’ comments, Country Music Television asked fans whether the Chicks should be forgiven, and more than a third of responders said “no.”

This might be why as Canadians are lucky to be getting this tour. I would like to say to that “more than a third” thanks for being bitter after 10 years! It was a great show!