Miranda Lambert: The Certified Platinum Tour
By Melissa Minners
Usually, when I attend a concert, it's for an artist that I really love. I know all of their songs and, more importantly, I know they can perform live and sound just as good as they do on the radio. So when my friend asked me to go with her to see Miranda Lambert's concert at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2015, I balked. I'd never been to a country music concert and, though I've enjoyed Miranda Lambert's music in the past, I had never seen her perform live. Then again, I wasn't paying for the ticket and it was a new experience to explore, so I said why not.
My friend assured me that I would have fun, but the trip to Madison Square Garden didn't start off well. We missed two trains waiting for the other members of our Miranda Lambert: The Certified Platinum Tour party to arrive. When they finally did and I realized just what time it was, I headed over to the kiosk at the train station and bought Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - you know, the king size package. I seriously and with much ceremony doled out each of the four cups, knowing that this could very well be the only meal we have a chance to eat before hurrying to our seats.
Luckily, we got into the city in time to eat something. I really wasn't in the mood for a hepatitis hot dog, so I figured we could grab a slice of pizza. Having worked in the city, I knew that the hole in the wall across the street and around the corner from the MSG and not the pizza joint on the main strip was the place to go. Gotta say that, either I was incredibly hungry, or I had just eaten one of the most heavenly slices of regular pie I could ever have. Then, it was on to the concert hall. We got in without a problem, but of course we had to get on the souvenir line behind the folks who needed the vendor to hold up each and every t-shirt for size before deciding which one to buy. Jeeze!
Then we got to our seats, which were fairly easy to find and offered a pretty decent view of the action on stage. Only one problem - the Tammy Wynette wannabe, complete with glue-on thick, black eyelashes (does anyone use those anymore?) and a poofed-up curly bouffant of blonde hair. Tammy, Jr., as I had taken to calling her, and her friend were the kind of fan that likes to stand up during a concert. Now, Tammy, Jr. was petite, but definitely not invisible...and she was a few inches taller with that bouffant of hers. And her friend was none too see through either.
Fortunately, the opening act was Ashley Monroe. Though she had a decent singing voice, I really didn't know any of her songs, so I didn't feel the need to stand up to see her sing. I just watched the screens to either side of the stage, hoping to catch a glimpse of her steel guitar player - he was simply awesome.
Up next was Justin Moore. I don't know all of his songs, but I did know a few and found myself standing every once in a while to sing and dance along with Moore. I particularly loved the humility of this performer. After singing Lettin' the Night Roll, he looked out at the crowd and thanked us for enjoying this song so much. He told us that when he had written it on his tour bus a while back, he had pictured this sort of reaction to his song, but never expected it to take place in the heart of New York City. He then asked us to join him again in singing it, promising us that his next few minutes up on that stage would be his most energetic and most powerful and he delivered quite well.
Once Justin Moore was done, the stagehands poured out to set things up for Miranda Lambert and the audience was surprised to see two Jukebox Mafia standing near the lighting and sound console. Dave Fenley, accompanied by Adam Flöhmeyer on guitar, began performing a mash-up of songs, ranging from R&B to rock and roll to hip-hop to country. Oh man, this performance incredibly juiced up the audience as we found ourselves singing along to snippets of songs like Superstitious, Radioactive, Friends in Low Places, Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Don't Believe Me Just Watch and more. I was so pumped after that, I couldn't wait for Miranda Lambert to come on stage.
Just before her grand entrance, they played the video of my favorite Miranda Lambert track, a duet with Carrie Underwood called Somethin' Bad. I love this Thelma and Louise-esque track with it's catchy hook and great beat. Once the video was over, the real show started and Miranda Lambert headed on stage wearing an I Love NY sleeveless t-shirt, black leather shorts, sparkly fishnet stockings and high boots, singing all of the hits from her latest album, Platinum. I loved the video footage playing behind the band and the little saying that displayed throughout her performance. Favorite performances include Automatic, Smokin' and Drinkin', Priscilla and Little Red Wagon. Lambert also performed some of her older favorites like White Liar and the Merle Haggard song, The Way I Am, performed solo with nothing but her guitar and a stool to sit upon. A nice treat was Miranda Lambert, along with Ashley Monroe and back-up singer Gwen Sebastian, performing Cowboy Take Me Away, a number one song from the Dixie Chicks in 1999.
When it was all over, I had to laugh as Roy Rogers' Happy Trails signaled the audience that the performance was over. Everyone was already on their feet, saluting Lambert with the highest praise, clapping and shouting out as she and the band left the stage.
As we all filed out of the Garden and headed off to the train station, I felt incredibly energized. My friend was right - I had fun. Why? Because the singing was genuine, no touch-ups and no lip-synching. There's nothing worse than going to a concert where the performers don't sing, but lip-synch, except a concert where the performers can't sing without all of those studio enhancements. The music was great, the singers extremely talented and I did actually find myself getting up to dance...though I still couldn't help but poke fun at Tammy, Jr. So, now, I can add country to the list of concerts I have enjoyed over the years and look back at March 28, 2015 with some fondness. Sure, the night may have started off with some mayhem, but it all turned out to be worth it in the end.