There was a moment early on during Miranda Lambert’s headlining show at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday that illustrated what makes her so compelling amid a galaxy of other one-note country acts.
After opening her concert with a number of angry hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-woman-scorned firecracker songs, she slowed the show down by briefly telling the crowd that she had endured much loss recently. Since the first of the year, Lambert had to go to two funerals: one for her father-in-law, and then for longtime friend Mark "Tex" Adams.
Bottom line » Country singer is a human pyrotechnic in explosive, fiery show
When » Friday, March 16
Where » EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City
With » Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann
Then the band started, and Lambert launched into "Over You," co-written with her husband Blake Shelton and about his brother, who perished in a car accident when Shelton was a teenager. The sad song of regret visibly affected Lambert, as the high-resolution screens over the stage depicted watery eyes. Later, Lambert wiped the tears from her eyes. Her voice even caught at the end of the song, and once it ended, she shook her fist upward at heaven.
That song showed that behind every bitter and man-eating song she writes, there is a hurt that fuels the anger. The 28-year-old Texan showed that dynamics is what makes modern country music interesting — especially her modern country music.
The country singer-songwriter led perhaps the most empowering show for women since the Spice Girls sang about "Girl Power." The arena was packed with women (and the men who will probably never complain about PMS again) who identified with the amiable, edgy show-woman. With catchy songs and well-chosen covers (Lady Gaga’s "You and I," John Prine’s "That’s the Way That the World Goes ’Round," and Tom Petty’s "You’re a Free Girl Now"), Lambert commanded the stage in between banter that unapologetically proclaimed a love for alcohol, chicken-fried steak, and the right to get "pissed off" as a married woman.
The stage and lighting show were simple, but who needed flashy lasers when Lambert was a human pyrotechnic? With a sparkly guitar strap, belt buckle and rock on her left hand, the blonde was an emotional front woman whose voice follows in the fine tradition of Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, with a natural twang that veers between snark and pluck,
Lynn and Parton were among the images on the screens as the show began, along with other powerful women such as Oprah Winfrey, Princess Kate Middleton and Beyonce — as one of Beyonce’s girl anthems blared. Just as misogynistic songs get old, a stready stream of sisterhood anthems can be off-putting. But Lambert’s genuine tears and sweat showed where her kerosene, gunpowder and lead were coming from, and made you wonder what strong woman Saint Patrick had behind him.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.