You know I'm still trying to figure something out.
How's come, in a city as big as Chicago, and as popular as country
seems to be here (at least by the radio ratings), a triple-bill like
Carlene Carter, Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan can't come close to
selling out a major venue? I guess I have my theories, but this time
I won't bore you with them because I've got three reviews for this
article, but if you've got your theories, let me know, I'd love to
share them. Anyway, how was the show, or rather, how were the shows?
& Carlene Carter
A Concert Review
This Kraft Country Tour thing brought the first time there has
been a three woman headlining tour. And, the choices couldn't have
hit a broader range of the country scene than with Carlene, Pam, and
Lorrie. Three different styles, three different drawing cards, but a
still pretty small crowd (at least for the venue size). Carlene
Carter, I would classify, is the fun-country girl, Pam Tillis is a
little bit more traditional country, and Lorrie Morgan foots the
"classy-style" country. It was a show where all three
artists had to deal with technical difficulties, some larger than
others, and all three seemed to plow on through. First up -Carlene
Carlene Carter came off to me as just this little bundle of
energy, something the older crowd at the World Music Theatre just
wasn't looking for. Given about 30 minutes on the stage, Carlene
plunged right into a set of most of her radio hits. "I Love You
Cause I Want To," "Hurricane," and "C'mon Back
(to the one that really loves you)," and she was off and
running. Bouncing back and forth across the stage, she did
everything but pay people to get off their feet, or at least show a
little enthusiasm. Personally, I liked it, especially since I've
seen a video or two with her and knew what to expect. But, this guy
behind me just out right hated her. In fact, he didn't even know who
she was. I found that kinda strange since he was a big fan of Lorrie
Morgan but had never heard of Pam Tillis nor Carlene Carter. How
does that one happen? I'm sorry, I digress, and although I usually
listen to crowd people, this guy came off a little more naïve than
even I am sometimes. Oh well, I digressed again. Back to Carlene.
It was about twenty minutes into the show when the technical
difficulties began. A lot of acts/singers are starting to use these
ear-monitors, basically wireless ear-pieces that take the place of
those big, clunky monitors at the front of the stage. I saw her
singing, then kinda grimace in pain from what looked like feedback
through only her ear-monitors, and give this mean, nasty look over
to the guy running the sound-board at the side of the stage. And
even though it didn't look like things got any more comfortable for
her, she kept going into "Every Little Thing" and finally
stirred up some audience participation. "I Fell In Love"
rounded out her little set. She was cool, but just couldn't win over
the crowd. And even though the guy behind me hated her, I don't care
because he didn't seem to know squat. But, Carlene gave her all,
worked through some technical difficulties, and gets TWO THUMBS UP.
Why two when she didn't win over the crowd? Well, she did a
cart-wheel, and I don't care what that guy said, I thought it was
way cool. I just wish for her a crowd that better appreciates her.
Up next on the bill was Pam Tillis.
The last time I reviewed Pam Tillis I sort of wailed on her for a
short show. This time I can't say anything about that because for
what she had to put up with, I'm impressed she stuck it out to begin
with. Here's how her set went down.
First off, the skies opened up, the lightening came, and the
thunder started to crash. I was glad I was under cover of the
pavilion. Pam and her band comes out, and she's running around,
singing her tunes, and just having a good ol' time. And so was the
crowd. She's keeping it up-tempo with "Deep Down," she
slows it down a little with "River and the Highway," and
then I see her kind of grimace, rub her ears, and give the same mean
and nasty look to the sound-dude at the side of the stage. But, she,
like Carlene, played on, and although you could see an occasional
annoyance, she knew the fans were there for a show. She made some
jokes about her father, Mel, and then there was a loud popping sound
and the stage lights died, and she says her monitors died too. Seems
they blew up a transformer, or something electrical like that.
While the stage crew people seem to be scrambling for any
answers, Pam and the band played on. She hit with a little acoustic
set, meanwhile someone was one their toes because they directed
these lights that were illuminating these Kraft signs on the band.
Mighty creative, I thought, and Pam went into "Don't Tell Me
What to Do," complete with some muscle-builder dude and his
buddy as guest singers. All in fun, it was karaoke time, but I hope
these guys don't quit their day jobs. All in good fun, the crowd
loved it even through the off-key singers. Well, they went into one
more song, "Spilt Perfume," and then called for a break to
figure out what the hell is going on.
Well, after almost a half hour to fix things, a back-up
transformer later, and the band, with lights and stuff, was back.
Pam had to move quick, and hit a few more hits, including the song
that brought me back to country, "Maybe It Was Memphis." I
don't know why, but one day I was channel hopping on my stereo and I
heard it, and I was back liking country again. Oh well. Pam and the
band wrapped it up gospel-style with "Till All the Love is
Gone" and that was it for her. This time Pam impressed me both
with her music, but also with her being able to overcome a hell of a
lot of technical problems. The crowd appreciated her work, and I am
back on the Pam Tillis bandwagon! It's TWO THUMBS UP for Pam Tillis!
Next came the quickest set-change I think these roadies and
people had to ever go through because they were already behind
schedule and Tinley Park had a sound curfew (go figure, build an
outdoor venue and have a sound curfew - I still can't figure out
that one). Out went the train station motif of Pam Tillis to an
old-style living room, complete with pictures on the piano, a
chandelier, a staircase, a vase of roses, and a bottle of champagne.
Lorrie Morgan is classy country.
So, Lorrie Morgan makes her entrance down the staircase dressed
in this white gown, which was pretty and all, and I'm no fashion
designer, but that black, headset style microphone just didn't match
at all. With her short hair, that big, bulky thing just sort of
sticks out, but that's just me. Anyway, Lorrie has always had classy
country hits, and she hit on them this night. "Back Among the
Living" and "Back in Your Arms Again" had the crowd
toe-tappin' along, but some of the songs seemed to have lost some of
their radio zip, "Half Enough" being one of them. The
brassy-ness, the edge it had on the radio, and Lorrie came off more
mellow than the song I remember. I'm not saying that's bad, but just
my observation. She had a lovely duet with John Brando (oh the
chicks in the audience were diggin' him, whistling and what-not, and
Lorrie almost lost total composure during the song), and then
Carlene and Pam came back for some trio stuff with Lorrie.
The three of them kicked into an abridged version of "Honky
Tonk Women" made famous by the Rolling Stones, and then saluted
the Beatles. The entire time all three of them were still having
ear-monitor problems. This is a challenge, and maybe not appreciated
or noticed by the audience, but even though, all three of them
managed to stay pretty well in harmony with each other. I
appreciated it. But the set was a little slow, until "Will The
Circle Be Unbroken" kicked in. I still felt bad for missing
church that morning (it was a Sunday and all), but now I can at
least say I had some religion for the day. Well, the girls left,
Lorrie was left on stage, and she proceeded to work through a few
more hits and wrap it up.
All in all, Lorrie Morgan is a classy act. But, for me, sometimes
a bit too classy. The band was good, the duet and trio stuff was
cool, but some of the songs just seemed to have lost the edge I
remember them for. I missed that. But who really gives a shit what I
missed anyway, the crowd is spending their hard-earned money, and
they really didn't seem to mind. I guess I can complain, but I can't
condemn. So, Lorrie Morgan gets TWO THUMBS UP too.
It was a good night, technical difficulties and all, so I'm kinda
glad Kraft put this little tour together. Three good country-singin'
dudettes in one night is never a bad thing.
That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right. L8R!