by Bill Paddack
Miranda Lambert isn’t afraid to speak her mind and sing the songs she wants to sing. Armed with a big voice, a feisty personality and a pink guitar, she did just that Friday night as she brought her On Fire Tour to Verizon Arena. Lambert – accompanied this time out by Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann – put on a high-energy show that featured her top hits plus covers ranging from Lady Gaga to Waylon Jennings.
With a crowd of 8,681 roaring their approval, she played the woman-out-for-revenge part to the hilt with such trademark hits as “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Kerosene.” Nobody in country music today can do it better. But while you’re watching her toss her hair with the best of ’em and whip out a threatening line or two with that strong voice, just don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all she can do.
More after the jump, plus more photos from Brian Chilson.
She sings about real people in an authentic way, covering a range of emotions. Her pairing of “Famous in a Small Town” and “Only Prettier” back to back was a highlight for us, as was the poignant “The House That Built Me” and her take on John Prine’s “That’s the Way That the World Goes ’Round.”
Lambert has enough country-rockers, ballads and anthems of her own to more than fill a concert set, but she seems to enjoy putting her “country girl version” out there to see what folks think on songs like Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” which she said she’d always thought would make “an awesome country song.” We have to admit, she proved her point.
With an easy smile and a nice stage presence, it’s not hard to see why Young has had five straight No. 1 singles. The 2006 winner of TV’s “Nashville Star” country talent show opened his portion of the show with his good-time tune “Save Water, Drink Beer” and the popular “Getting You Home,” but really shined on “Tomorrow,” his giving-it-one-more-shot-before-I-leave ode. It’s a classic country theme with lines like “but tonight I’m going to love you like there’s no tomorrow,” but he freshens it up and delivers it with the right blend of pain and determination.
Niemann, perhaps until now known more for writing than singing, included a rockin’ version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy” in his seven-song opening set. He also had fun with “One More Drinkin’ Song,” showcased his No. 1 hit “Lover, Lover” and showed he could slow it down with the tender, well-received “What Do You Want.” Following the applause for the latter, he responded wryly, “It’s good to know my pain is your pleasure.”
We won’t try to say the three singers saved the best for last, but we did love the encore. Lambert served up Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” then brought the guys back out – drinks in hand – for a rollicking “Honky Tonk Heroes” that ol’ Waylon himself probably would have enjoyed.