Gig Review and Photography by Hollie Turner

The Dixie Chicks

Last night Birmingham was in the presence of serial Grammy award winning country royalty, when The Dixie Chicks hit The Barclaycard Arena with a bang!

The night began with support from Augustana, a soft rock band from San Diego, California who had also previously played a pop up show at the Sunflower Lounge the same day.

Notably on the way in, the screens either side of the stage were displaying a message to photograph and hashtag your photos #DCXGOTSIGNED if you were one of the lucky fans who had purchased one of ten programmes that the band have signed each night of the MMXVI tour.

The Dixie Chicks

The final groups of people coming in to the arena took their seats ready for the night’s main act. This is the first time that the band has toured the UK in 13 years! On time at 8:30pm, opening with ‘Taking the Long Way’ The Dixie Chicks appeared on stage for their opening number as a three strong silhouette.

The girls barely paused before they continued into ‘Lubbock or Leave It’ and ‘Easy Silence’ both taken from their hugely successful album: ‘Taking The Long Way’ before saying hello to Birmingham.

The Dixie Chicks

The girls proceeded to play a solid 22 song strong set that included a mixture of their early country and bluegrass hits, which were heavy in instruments. Several other musicians joined them on stage for an acoustic set that made you feel like you were sat around in a bar in Nashville with them as they played as fast and as hard as they could, the audience cheering and clapping and dancing with delight in encouragement for them. The back blocks of the arena were not in use and it appeared that the seating had been bought forward to compensate for this. This was fantastic because it only added to the intimacy of this show. For an arena this big, they made a crowd of thousands of people feel like only 200.

The Dixie Chicks

I’m not going to lie: if you are not a fan of country music at all, or have any idea of what it is about, then this band is not for you. One absolute bonus of a seemingly mature audience was that I could actually SEE the band. So many gigs I go to these days with a younger audience and the only thing I can see in front of me is a sea of screens recording. It’s disheartening. You get 2 hours in the same room as one of your favourite bands that are playing you all of your favourite songs: enjoy it! Watch it with your eyes, not through a screen? The audience overall seemed to enjoy the show, even the handful of people around me who clearly hadn’t a clue who this band were at all and maybe just had free tickets to it?

The Dixie Chicks

The visual elements of the show that were played on a screen the length of the stage behind the girls was full of colour and beautifully themed shots and lyrics that fit the songs throughout the show.

A quarter of the way through the set, and Natalie Maine’s told the crowd that their next song would be a tribute to Prince who recently passed away and personally inspired them as artists. She then proceeded to absolutely vocally nail their rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ by Sinead O’Connor.

‘Top of the World’ followed with her vocals just as strong and with just as much impact. The crowd sang along loudest to the band’s beautiful heart-breaking love story ‘Travelling Soldier’.

The Dixie Chicks

For anybody that doesn’t know already, this band famously found themselves in hot water and were labelled as being unpatriotic in 2003 when lead singer Natalie Maines told a crowd in London that the Chicks were ‘ashamed that the president of the United States was from Texas’ when George Bush was currently in office and sending U.S troops into Iraq. The band continued their tour back round to the states and back to their hometown in Texas where they were greeted by angry mobs of people destroying their CD’s in the streets and boycotting them across country radio stations in response. The backlash was so bad that Natalie Maines received death threats stating that she would be shot dead on stage. But this is also what gained them huge respect because in the eye of the storm, these ladies stood by their convictions and held their own, despite the difficulties that they faced.

The Dixie Chicks

Last night during ‘Ready To Run’ the girls tipped their hats towards their controversial political views with a visual annotation on the screen behind them of the current presidential candidates dressed as clowns and pulling silly faces. Pictures of Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in a curly red wig and nose flashed across the screen much to the amusement of the audience. The song finished with a sea of U.S.A themed blue, red and white confetti showering the audience.

The Dixie Chicks

The band were fantastic with their audience with front woman Natalie Maines chatting to the crowd, waving, and encouraging them to clap along. Natalie Maines also called a fan up on stage to take a selfie with the group after he’d been holding a scrolling sign up on his phone asking throughout the show. All three girls jumped into the picture enthusiastically to which the crowd cheered.

My only slight criticism would be that I wished the sound in the arena were louder. I’m used to it pumping and although baring in mind that I am slightly deaf, it did appear to be on the quiet side in there to what it usually is.

The show finished at 10:40pm after the girls left the stage and returned for their encore of the hugely powerful and emotionally charged ‘Not Ready To Make Nice’ – a song reflecting on the band’s feelings about the response they received to Natalie’s previous political statement, that they sang with just as much passion and determination as they ever have.

The Dixie Chicks

Natalie Maines lead vocals were stunning, accompanied by Emily Robison on backing vocals, playing banjo, dobro, and several guitars, and her sister Martie Maguire on fiddle, and mandolin.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this band to a friend. They were 110% worth every penny that you would pay to see them. These three women, all now mothers in their 40’s, played and performed just as well as they did in their 20’s at this show and proved themselves to still be three seriously badass women.

The Dixie Chicks

Set List:

1.    Taking The Long Way

2.    Lubbock or Leave It

3.    Easy Silence

4.    Favourite Year

5.    I Like It

6.    Long Time Gone

7.    Prince Tribute –

Cover of Sinead O’ Connor’s ‘Nothing Compare’s’ 2 U’

8.    Top of The World

9.    Goodbye Earl

10.  Interlude – Driving Race Visual

11.  Travelling Soldier

12.  Patty Griffin Cover – ‘Please Don’t Let Me Die In Florida’

13.  White Trash Wedding

14.  All Dixie Chicks Drum Cover – ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyoncé

15.  Ready to Run

16.  Mississippi

17.  Cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’

18.  Silent House

19.  Cowboy Take Me Away

20.  Wide Open Spaces

21.  Sin Wagon

Encore:

22.  Not Ready To Make Nice

23.  I Believe In a Better Way

One Response to “The Dixie Chicks + Augustana at The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, UK – 29th April 2016”

  1. keith davies Says:

    Great review,and thankyou for the song list because I went to that show and couldn’t remember some of them,they were FANTASTIC.
    . Keith.

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