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A Concert Review

September 8, 1996

Star Plaza Theater

Merrilville, IN

A Review and Photos by:
The Dude on the Right
Randy Owen
Randy Owen
Rain is a funny thing. It's necessary for us to live, yet when it's raining and you're trying to get somewhere on time, forget it. Such was the case in my travels to Alabama's show at the Star Plaza Theatre in Indiana this time. Again I run a little late and missed most of the opening act, who, this time, turned out to be the established songwriter Victoria Shaw. A quick word about her before we discuss a little about Alabama's show.

I saw Victoria Shaw a while ago, had no clue who she was, and after hearing some of her songs said to myself "Self, hey, Garth sang that song. Hey, John Michael Montgomery sang that song. Hey…." I think you get the picture. Last time she had a full-blown band. This time it was just her, two dudes on guitar, and some rain. It seems the roof was leaking at the Star Plaza Theatre. But, she is still fun, and she has this new song called Waii-ki-ki Cowboy about this cowboy who moves to Hawaii. It was funny, I liked it, and quite simply I'll give Victoria Shaw ONE, no, make that TWO THUMBS UP for her little show. Seems the crowd gave her a standing ovation too, so I guess they liked her even though they had no idea who she was. Now they know.

But it was still Alabama the people were there to see. See them they did.

Alabama's first release, maybe you heard of it, "Tennessee River," came out some fifteen years ago. Through those fifteen years my little list shows they've had eighteen albums, all of which have at least gone gold but most either platinum or multi-platinum. As impressive has to be the fifty singles that have been released with some forty of them hitting number one. With that list of songs, it's hard to please everyone at an Alabama concert, especially if they're looking to hear they're favorite single, but Alabama sure as hell will try.

An Alabama show isn't about a fancy stage, isn't about fancy lights, isn't about wild stage
Teddy Gentry
Teddy Gentry
antics, it's about a band touching an audience and this night seems to be no different. They kicked it off with "Here We Are" and rolled through about 23 of their hits and, as scary as it might be, and as long as it's been since I've heard some of them I still knew all of the words.

Wow, I am just stuck with some writer's block because I really don't know how to describe this show other than great. I guess I could tell you a little more about what to expect. Hmmmm... Well, as far as the band goes, they're still great. They can still harmonize with the best of them as was heard during "She's a Lady." They do a great job of mixing up those ballads with the foot-stompin' songs, and Randy Owen will still do just about anything to make the entire crowd feel like it is their living room. Like most shows he'll venture out into the audience, pull out the requests that have been left for the band, and do his best to answer them. This time around it was a request for a song off of their Christmas album do out, well, around Christmas time, and the band almost put me in the mood to go out and spend way too much money on presents. Alright, well, not really, but the song, I think it was called "Christmas Spirit" was cool. They also did an impromptu version of "She and I" which they said they haven't played in three years. Now, maybe he wasn't lying, or maybe he was, but it didn't sound nearly that rough, and the light dude, who was supposedly new, did an alright time with an impromptu song too.

Jeff Cook
Jeff Cook
"Mountain Music" closed out the normal set and it was time for encore number one. Now, I will give one word of advice to Randy Owen. Watch out for stalker women. There was one lady there who, when he ventured into the audience, came up to dance with him and just had this look in her eye of "He will be mine, oh yes, he will be mine." But then the Star Plaza storm-troopers escorted her back to her seat. Then, during encore number one, she made her way back towards the stage and almost looked like she was ready to take that running start to jump on the stage. All I know is I hope Randy made it to the bus alright because this lady scared me and I was a couple of sections away. Anyway, Randy, watch out for those stalker women. Alright, enough of scary women. Encore #1 ended with "Angels Among Us" and I figured the night was over. So did a lot of the crowd as they headed for the exits. But the rest of the fans wouldn't stop and the band returned for a great version of the Skynyrd classic, "Sweet Home Alabama." I thought it was definitely over but the band showed me different, and finally, well, not really finally 'cause they are cool, it was over.

Alabama is the quintessential group. They don't play to the fans, they play for the fans, and I think that is the difference. The band still sounds great and still can play a ballad that will bring a tear to your eye or an up-beat song that makes you want to dance with your honey. In any case, I think any Alabama show is probably great - this one sure was. So, it's TWO BIG THUMBS UP for Alabama this time around. Maybe next year I'll try to round up some of the Entertainment Ave! staff and make our way to June Jam, Alabama's big show. If only I knew when it was?

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right. L8R!


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