Photo by Brian Chilson.
“Amarillo By Morning,” “Ocean Front Property,” “The Chair,” “Check Yes or No,” “Run,” “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” – the list goes on and on.
George Strait has sung us a lot of great country songs over the years, and an amazing 57 of them have hit No. 1. He couldn’t pack them all into his concert Saturday night at Verizon Arena, but in a 30-song set that ran past 11:30, he gave it his best shot.
The crowd of 15,597 embraced them all, but if his fans love his new songs, they downright adore the old ones. He delivered a terrific mix of both, from his opener, “Twang,” to his trademark finale, “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
Strait – with boots, black hat, starched shirt and jeans all in place – just sings.
There’s not a lot of talk and no dazzling special effects. But his smooth voice and traditional sound, backed by his Ace in the Hole Band, don’t need anything else.
Photo by Brian Chilson.
Along the way, the King of Country tipped his hat to some other country music legends, thrilling with Merle Haggard’s “The Seashores of Old Mexico” and delivering an inspired cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”
“Amarillo By Morning,” arguably one of the best country songs ever, was, of course, a crowd favorite, and it was fun to still hear him perform “Unwound,” “The Fireman” and “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.” He also – perhaps because he was back in Arkansas – threw in a tune written by his son, Bubba, called “Arkansas Dave,” off his new album.
Strait was, as he put it, “sharing the stage with two of the greatest entertainers in country music” – Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack, and they all performed “in the round,” with the crowd surrounding them on all sides.
Womack opened with a nice selection of her material, including “I’ll Think of a Reason Later,” “A Little Past Little Rock” and the mega-crossover hit “I Hope You Dance,” before turning the diamond-shaped stage over to McEntire.
Ever the showstopper, McEntire belted out hits like “Can’t Even Get the Blues” and “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”; provided a comedy skit with Melissa Peterman (the nutty, scene-stealing Barbra Jean from the “Reba” TV show); faced off with Womack for pure magic on the duet “Does He Love You” and, wearing a slinky red dress, had a yellow taxi deliver her back to the stage for an encore performance of “Fancy.”