February 19, 2011
Billy Bob's Texas
Fort Worth, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Jeff Jones
They came in all shapes and sizes. They entered the building two by two until the ark, affectionately known as Billy Bob's Texas, was filled literally to the rafters.
It was the second night of Miranda Lambert's record breaking two-night stand at this legendary honky-tonk. The milestone wasn't lost on the blonde chanteuse from Lindale, Texas. She acknowledged the fact she had accomplished something no other musical act in the history of this 30-year old venue had done before, back-to-back sell outs. The crowd couldn't have been happier to be part of this momentous occasion.
The girl power in the room was evident from the moment the newly minted Grammy Award winning artist hit the stage. Lambert's first two songs, "Only Prettier" and "Kerosene," had every female in the room practically pumping their fists in the air as they sang along with a feisty Miranda, who attacked the music with a vengeance.
I will freely admit that when it comes to country music, I'm out of my element. I find it strange that Lambert is receiving awards from an album released in 2009. I find it more remarkable, and very refreshing, that she composes most of the songs on her albums. That in itself is a rare skill among country artists. The fact she sold out Billy Bob's on two consecutive nights is a testament to the remarkable connection her music has made with her fans, not only in Texas, but around the globe.
This crowd of at least 6,000 was tuned into Miranda from the moment she opened her mouth. They knew the words to all her songs, and as my female guests at the table sitting around me said, "She's one of us." Lambert gained her initial notoriety in 2003 by finishing third in country music's version of American Idol called Nashville Star. Judging by her performance this evening, she's the most enduring symbol of that now defunct show. As she rolled through songs like "Sin for a Sin," "Time to Get a Gun," "Dead Flowers" and Hillbilly Highway," it was hard to suppress a smile watching the enthusiastic audience feed off Lambert's every move.
The emotional high of the evening didn't come with Lambert's rollicking rendition of the Rick Derringer classic "Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo." It came with Lambert recounting the events preceding her Grammy victory the previous Sunday for Best Female Country Vocal on her hit, "The House that Built Me." While Lambert was standing center stage at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles receiving the award, her beloved grandmother passed away. A still shaken Miranda spoke softly about her fallen hero, then dedicated her record breaking song to her memory. It was hard to find a dry eye in the house.
Perhaps the most telling moment of the evening occurred before the show ever started. As I sat on a bench watching people enter the cavernous Billy Bob's, three young girls dressed appropriately in their country attire, eagerly walked past me as they looked at the wonders inside the building. A beaming mother was right behind her daughters. Then their father followed behind them, dressed in his blue jeans, boots and his white Stetson hat. He looked over at me, nodded and smiled. I momentarily looked at his family in front of him and return the gesture in kind. Yeah, we were both out of our element this evening, but for once, the price of admission was well worth it.