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Concert Reviews:
Pam Tillis
- June 4, 1995

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Pam Tillis with
Lorrie Morgan & Carlene Carter

A Concert Review

August 18, 1996

The New World
Music Theatre

Tinley Park, IL

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
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?

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 Carter.

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 nave 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!


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