By Guest Contributor Cory DeStein.
Over the river and through the snow to the ‘Shine All Night Tour’ we go…On this particular Saturday night a friend and I traveled through the snow and ice to attend the Martina McBride and Trace Adkins tour stop at the Peterson Event Center, here in Pittsburgh. This is the third time I have been fortunate enough to experience a Martina tour, along with the ‘Timeless’ and ‘Waking Up Laughing’ tour, and like those performances the country diva did not fail to deliver.
In front of a black back drop Trace kicked off the show, much to the delight of fan club section nestled quite noticeably to the right of the stage, rose onto the stage with his opening number “I Got My Game On” one of the many novelty songs he charmed the audience with throughout his one hour set.
Trace has one hell of a powerful voice, but he sadly didn’t go out of his way to show it throughout the show. He rather focused more on hits like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” “Hot Mama,” “Swing,” and “Rough and Ready” along with other similar tunes. Towards the end of his set, he introduced his recently crowned ACM Song of the Year, “You’re Gonna Miss This.”
Just in case fans had forgotten the true potential he returned to the stage to entertain the enthusiastic crowd with “Muddy Water” and “Higher Ground” joined by a 7 member gospel choir for his encore. The 6 ft something cowboy exited the stage handing his Stetson hat to a young fan in the front.
Although I was entertained during his set, filled with one liners, and music video clips, I can’t say that I would see Adkins as a headliner in concert. He has much better material than what he sang that night, and never ventured off the beaten path of radio favorites. I would have been just as happy sitting at home watching him on CMT, than venturing out for the live experience. The live excitement was missing.
After a quick bathroom break and a check on the weather, we were back at our center stage row 13th row seats for the main attraction. A techno remix of some of Martina’s biggest hits began to spin. In front of a white sheer scrim a group of young girls, including all three McBride children danced and launched t-shirts and glow sticks into the crowd.
The girls exited the stage just as a techno remix of “Ride” played and a slowly growing disco ball began growing in the distance. For a moment I felt I may have been at Cher’s farewell show with remixes and color effects. Martina’s seven member band rose from the stage and as the disco ball gained its full size Martina appeared launching into “Ride.”
Without losing momentum they leapt into hits such as “When God-Fearing Women” “Happy Girl” and her first number one, “Wild Angels”. The four time CMA Female Vocalist’s voice is just as flawless in concert as on record, if not better. McBride went into one of her oldest hits with “My Baby Loves Me” straight into her newest “Wrong Baby Wrong” a upbeat tune on good friends and wine.
Martina took a moment to highlight her 7 piece band, with their rendition of “Lean On Me” complete with vocal highlights from the band mates.
For a quick trip back to Timeless, Martina and her highly talented band mates gathered center stage for a stunning rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It through the Night” followed by her inspiring “Anyway”.
Martina never let the excitement fail with note after note nailed, and the special effects rolling. A highlight of the evening was following the solo of McBride’s new fiddle player on the far left wing of the stage, on the white scrim that had covered the set a city scene was displayed under the stars.
With the steel guitar in the background the moon rose over the city scene dancing across the sky to the left, as the moon set on the city, McBride rose from the stage sitting in a neon blue crescent moon while serenading the heartbreaking “Concrete Angel.”
The moon flew across the audience and right over my head, reaching a second stage directly behind my seats. Fans rushed the stage for a brief front row seat as Martina introduced an album track that she loves, but claims probably won’t be a single: “I’m Trying.” In classic McBride fashion, she dropped to her knees for the climax of the tale of an alcoholic man and the unrelenting love of his wife. From her mini stage she sang a combined mix of “Loves the Only House” and “Blessed.”
She exited the stage belting out “This Ones For the Girls” as she met with many of the fans on her way back to the stage through the aisles of the venue.
Once back at the main stage and after another album cut “You’re Not Leaving Me” it was time for what the power house was truly known for, hitting notes that few artists dare tackle. Switching out “Where Would You Be” for a rare treat and one of my personal favorites “Whatever You Say.”
With plenty of fluids and and just pure talent Martina reminded every member of the audience what she can do with “Broken Wing” The final note rang out for what felt like an eternity and the crowd went wild. She couldn’t leave the city without the one that took her to all new levels.
“Independence Day” was delivered with full blown emotion and McBride’s now signature mic stand throw she brought down the house. With all the excitement and the feeling of my heart beating out of my chest, I was ready to drag her out for a encore myself when finally reappeared with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” complete with a Ben Roethlisberger jersey, a nice touch for any Pittsburgh show.
When all was said and done, and I was walking back to my car I gained an immense appreciation for what I saw put on. The concert was completely over the top and spared no expense, it was something id expect for a artist at the peak of their fame to put on, but Martina and her band still pulls out all the stops and gives it everything they got for what I truly believe is for the fans. I highly recommend you experience for yourself if they ‘Shine’ their way into your city, and look forward to my next chance.
Trace’s Set List
“I Got My Game On”
“Songs About Me”
“Marry for Money”
“What’s the Big Deal?”
“Rough and Ready”
“You’re Gonna Miss This”
“Ladies Love Country Boys”
“Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”
ENCORE: “Muddy Water” and “Higher Ground”
Martina’s Set List
“When God Fearin’ Women Get The Blues”
“The Way That I Am”
“Wrong Baby Wrong”
“Lean on Me”
“Help Me Make it Through The Night”
“Love’s the Only House/Blessed”
“This One’s For The Girls”
“You’re Not Leaving Me”
“Whatever You Say”
ENCORE: “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Summer of ’69″