August 14, 2004
The most anticipated country music concert tour of the year made a stop
Friday night at the packed America West Arena, giving fans a chance to see
both the reigning Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year and the
perennial CMA Female Vocalist of the Year in one evening.
Superstars Alan Jackson and Martina McBride did not disappoint, living up to
their much ballyhooed reputations and energizing fans as both ran through
extensive sets of their many chart-topping hits while fans two-stepped in
In concert, reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Alan Jackson does not
wiggle his hips like Kenny Chesney nor run back and forth at a sprint across
the stage, slapping hands with his fans a la Garth Brooks. What Alan Jackson
does is simply stand front and center and deliver his classic, pure country
songs and that's enough for his huge following.
"Just to see Alan Jackson in person is perfect," said April Parrillo, 33, of
The stage curtains opened to reveal Jackson and his tight eight-piece backup
band The Strayhorns as they launched into his 1995 No. 1 hit "Gone Country."
The 6'4" blond singer acknowledged the crowd with an "aw shucks" smile and
tip of his trademark white cowboy hat before settling in front of the
microphone to unleash his incomparable baritone.
Dressed in torn jeans, boots and a Nudie-style western shirt, Jackson
blistered his way through a vast catalog of hits, playing rowdy honky
tonkers such as "Don't Rock The Jukebox" and "I Don't Even Know Your Name," mid-tempo tunes "Livin' On Love" and "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" and a bevy of his best ballads including "When Somebody Loves You" and his latest No. 1 hit, "Remember When." He brought the house down with his ode to 9/11, the Grammy winning "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)."
Due to release a new album Sept. 7, Jackson played its lead single, "Too
Much Of A Good Thing," which is currently climbing the country charts. The
well received new song is true to the Jackson formula - simple, catchy,
straight-ahead country - hinting that the man shows no signs of slowing
With his honest, no frills, crowd-pleasing performance Alan Jackson proved
that he has to be considered the frontrunner for a second consecutive
Entertainer of the Year award.
Tamarita Ned, 23, who drove from Flagstaff for the show, said: "This was my
first time seeing Alan Jackson, and it was worth the trip!"
In the first set of the evening, co-headliner Martina McBride showed why she
is considered one of the greatest female voices in country music history.
The perennial CMA Female Vocalist of the Year shook the America West rafters
with her patented vocal pyrotechnics, displaying a power and range that make
other country singers sound like they belong in a junior glee club.
"She can sing like crazy!" exclaimed Sentia Pierson, 32, from Mesa. "She has
the voice of an angel."
The petite McBride opened the show with the powerful "When God Fearin' Women Get the Blues," then ripped into "Love's the Only House," getting the crowd on their feet for the first of many times.
A skilled performer, McBride, dressed in black leather pants and a denim
jacket emblazoned with "Love" on the back, worked the stage with a
contagious energy during the upbeat numbers, belting out such female
empowerment tunes as "This One's For The Girls," and her signature hit,
Perhaps McBride's greatest strengths as a vocalist are her phrasing and
technique on her slower songs and she delivered ballads such as the aching
"Concrete Angel" and "In My Daughter's Eyes" with a resonating emotion that
hushed the crowd.
With 132 songs that have landed on the country charts between them, Alan
Jackson and Martina McBride could have played all night and still not
scratched the surface of their many hits. With so much terrific material at
the ready, the superstars played the greatest of their greatest hits,
leaving fans in attendance more than satisfied.
"Alan Jackson is a legend in the making," stated Brian McNally, 49, of the
North Valley. "Of the second generation country singers, behind Haggard and
Cash, he is the best!"
Martina McBride set list:
When God Fearin' Women Get The Blues
Love's The Only House
Over The Rainbow
My Baby Loves Me
In My Daughter's Eyes
A Broken Wing
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
This One's For The Girls
Alan Jackson set list:
I Don't Even Know Your Name
Chasin' That Neon Rainbow
Livin' On Love
When Somebody Loves You
Work In Progress
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Hey Good Lookin'
Don't Rock The Jukebox
It's Five O'clock Somewhere
Who's Cheatin' Who
The Blues Man
Pop A Top
Drive (For Daddy Gene)
Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)?
Where I Come From
- CHRIS HOLLY