On the Scene: The Dixie Chicks at Madison Square Garden

154650__dixie_l_2The Dixie Chicks were at Madison Square Garden last night, and I was there, ready to reconcile my crazy liberal Yankee-ness with my native Texan upbringing. Wasn’t the first time I’d seen them — I caught the Fly Tour back in 2000 B.I. (that’s “Before Incident”), and my memories of that show are all happy and fluffy bunnies and innocent. I remember walking out feeling like I was safe, I was awesome, and everything was right with the world.  It was kind of like summer camp.

But that was then. This is now, 2006 A.I. (“After Incident”), and their Accidents and Accusations Tour has been tainted by low ticket sales in the South and the still-simmering anger of their country music fans, who curiously have yet to redirect any of that anger toward more deserving or at least more obvious targets (like, I don’t know, Neil “Impeach the President” Young?). I wasn’t exactly expecting bunnies this time around, in other words — and the Chicks didn’t bring any.

(Read on to hear what they had to say about Mel Gibson…)

The lights went down. The crowd went “Wooo!” And the sound systemplayed “Hail to the Chief” as the Chicks walked onstage. You get theidea. They really, honestly, do not care what you or anyone else thinkabout them, and they are going to be exactly who they want to be fromhere on out. Luckily, who that is just happens to be a threesome whoplay with sisterly connection, backed by an excellent band capable ofthrashing their opening barnburner, “Lubbock or Leave It,” or pullingback for an almost orchestral rendition of Patty Griffin’s “Top of theWorld.” Martie Maguire’s syrupy fiddle anchors the group’s sound, hersister, Emily Robison, rocks a variety of instruments (but none asimpressively as her trademark banjo), and the lady of the hour, MissNatalie Maines, stands at the center of it all in a pair of stilettosshe wields like shitkickers, singing her little heart out in a voicethat’s only grown stronger.

But you don’t want to know about this, do you, Popwatch readers? Youdon’t want to know about their perfect take on the BobDylan-by-way-of-Sheryl Crow cover “Mississippi,” or the funked-upversion of “Ready to Run” they used to close, or the way their faceslight up when they play, when they sing harmony, when they walk to thewings to greet the fans… You want to know What She Said.  Did Natalieexplain herself?  Did she get herself in more trouble?  Did hecklersthrow rotten fruit?  The answers, too bad for you, are no, no, and no.There were references here and there: “This next song is about how welive our lives, and how we make the excellent career decisions wemake,” Maines smiled at the start of their album’s title track, “Takingthe Long Way.” She dedicated “White Trash Wedding” to Mel Gibson,dropping deep into her Texas twang to giggle, “You know how it is whenyou’re drunk!” She explained that while the  song doesn’t pertain toMel, per se, she just wanted to send him a shout-out — and (wisely)observed that “All of our controversy would have been over if I’d onlychecked myself into rehab…” That got a nice-sized cheer from thecrowd.

But no cheer was as big as that for the somber opening notes of “NotReady to Make Nice,” the Chicks’ musical response to their critics.Before this one, Maines walked up to the mic in a single spotlight,kept her mouth shut, and let the lyrics speak for themselves. When thelights came up on the rest of the band, they illuminated the crowd onthe floor in front of the stage, many of whom were holding xeroxedsigns that said, simply, “Thank You.”  And after Maines bitterly,resolutely, breathed the last line — “They say/time heals everything/but I’m still waiting” — the applause stretched for a full minute ormaybe more, a bunch of crazy Northerners showing their respect andadmiration for a bunch of Southern Chicks who put themselves out there,got kinda screwed, but aren’t gonna change for any of us. When the lights came up at the end of the show, the sound system was playing Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back.”


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  • Judson

    saw the concert at madison sq. garden last night. it was unbelievable. the chicks are truly amazing!

  • J C

    Who the F*** cares what the Dixie Chicks think?

  • jcoop

    i care that they say what they think…and what they think rules!

  • Daph-

    I care!

  • Levente

    Not gonna lie- I can’t stand them anymore and won’t buy their album or go to their concerts… but I did illegally download “Not Ready to Make Nice” and put it on my iPod. Those girls can sing, but I will never put another dollar in their pocket. Okay, NEVER is a strong word… probably never…

  • Sarah

    I’m glad to hear that they still put on a great show. I saw the Top of the World tour when it was here in Calgary, and it was the best concert I’ve been to, and I’ve been to some good ones. I have to wait until November to see this tour, but I can’t wait!

  • Kelly

    Wow. . .I’m sure glad Levente posted a comment here. It serves really well to illustrate the asinine, petty, ridiculous nature of some people in this country. No problem illegally downloading songs illegally, but totally willing to crucify someone else because of a few words. Obviously these people have never once said anything that other people disagreed with. Must be nice to live like that.

  • Vance

    hmm… you can’t stand them, but like their singing and have no problem stealing their songs, but denounce them for their politics and/or actions? How moral Ms. L.

  • Jenjk

    JC…Who the F*** cares what YOU think?!

  • Indianafan

    The Dixie Chicks are so cool. I don’t understand why country radio abandoned them. Country radio should be ashamed of themselves. There is definitely too much hate in this world.

  • d.c.

    Oddly the people they defend, our enemies; wouldn’t let them perform in public, or dress like.. or speak out they way they do.

  • Meta

    I care what the chicks think, because it is nice to see that half the U.S is not alone. Its also nice to see people makeing a good use of freedom of speach. In addition it is also nice to see 3 chicks, that won’t be silanced and sell out for fear of angering a few people who do not want to hear other opinions, as well as who let their opinion afect their feelings on what is good music.
    To Silance the people who you disagree with, is part of destroying democracy.
    And I am a Homo from texas who voted for Bush.
    (for anyone wanting to call me names, or will claim I’m from the north, or against bush. It does not matter.)
    It is also nice to hear that they can still give a great show, thank you for not leaveing that part out.

  • Mimi

    Since when did being a fan of country music mean that you check your brains at the door and become a stooge of right wing politico warmongers? My Daddy, my brother and my hubby all served in this country’s military with honor and they join me in saying …. Chicks rule !!!
    I was born in Lubbock, Texas [Lubbock or Leave It !] and I’m proud to say I have a mind, free will and can judge music and politics on their merits. No knee jerking phony corrupt patriotism here.
    I vote, I love my country, and I believe in the constitution which includes free speech.

  • Meta

    Whoa whoa. D.c who misinformed you. Defend, no one ever said they defend our enemys. The words, “we suport the womanizing cruel leaders that are left in the world.” never were uttered. There is a big gap between being ashamed of the way our leader, our represative, addresses the rest of the world and our union with neglagence(in opinion), and defending our enemies. A very big gap. Read up a bit.

  • C

    First of all, I think these girls are wonderful musicians and they harmonize and sing beautifully together. That being said, many other musicians walk to the wings to greet fans, fans will ALWAYS cheer for minutes at a concert, and fans always hold up signs supporting the people they paid to see. Why should fans who went to the Chicks concert be any different?

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