Country music's best pack America West Arena - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Country music's best pack America West Arena

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Posted: Saturday, August 14, 2004 8:41 am | Updated: 5:05 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

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

the aisles.

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,

"Independence Day."

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

Happy Girl

Over The Rainbow

Concrete Angel

Wild Angels

My Baby Loves Me

In My Daughter's Eyes

Wearing White

How Far

A Broken Wing

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

This One's For The Girls

Independence Day

Life #9

Alan Jackson set list:

Gone Country

I Don't Even Know Your Name

Chasin' That Neon Rainbow

Livin' On Love

When Somebody Loves You

Little Bitty

Work In Progress

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Hey Good Lookin'

Remember When

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

Mercury Blues


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