concert reviews: December 2009 Archives

I wrote last week that Gretchen Wilson's a pretty complicated country performer. She didn't make anything any simpler at her show at Cotton Eyed Joe last night--she and her band of hotshot Nashville cats turned in an arena-sized concert crammed onto the club's dancefloor, skipping traditional country (no "Come to Bed" or "When I Think About Cheatin'") in favor of her hardest rocking hits ("Here for the Party," "All Jacked Up") and a couple of classic rock covers (Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" and Heart's "Barracuda"). There was even a drum solo.

Wilson presents herself as both a hardcore country traditionalist and as a trailer-park version of the girl next door. She's not really much of either--her idea of country tradition only goes back about 30 years, to Hank Williams Jr. and Charlie Daniels, and she's a polished, professional, veteran entertainer. (She killed that show last night--it was one of the best concerts I've seen all year.) It's a knotty package--celebrity that sells itself as grassroots populism. It's no coincidence that the working-class anthem "Redneck Woman" is exactly what made her rich and famous. (Wilson told the audience she'd like to stay and hang out at the club for a couple of hours after the show. Within minutes of the concert's end, though, she was on her way out a side door to her gigantic tour bus, surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards. It was a TMZ kind of moment.)

(There's a dark side to that kind of populism these days, though. Wilson dedicated "Politically Uncorrect" to the military personnel in the audience--I didn't particularly appreciate the conflation of the armed forces with conservative politics, but whatever. The song segued into a Thin Lizzy-style twin-guitar-lead rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." When it was over, Wilson asked from the stage, "Isn't it great to live in America?" Somebody near me in the crowd shouted back, "It used to be!")

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This page is a archive of entries in the concert reviews category from December 2009.

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