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Lambert refuses to rest on laurels

Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, Cal., February 16, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Watching this stop on Miranda Lambert's "Livin' Like Hippies Tour," one is struck by just how many great songs the country singer/songwriter already has in her repertoire. With most artists, it's relatively easy to guess which song a performer will choose to close a show. But Lambert has so many winners to pick from, many would have made sense as closers. Tonight, she ended her set with "White Liar," a bluegrass-y indictment of a dishonest soul. It was great choice, on a night of many great choices.

Lambert's catalogue allows her to mix things up emotionally, the way all truly great country shows do. She modeled a pair of gaudy shades to sing the silly (but somewhat subtly serious) "Pink Sunglasses" and joked around with "We Should Be Friends." However, she broke your heart with the acoustic guitar-only performance of "Tin Man," lyrical advice she imparts to one Wizard of Oz character she penned with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. She grappled with tragedy for "Over You," and then had the audience feeling nostalgic with "The House That Built Me."

Lambert was backed by a particularly large band that included a bevy of guitarists, which gave the performer's songs a full-sounding backing. In addition to her own excellent songs, Lambert sang a duet with opener Lucie Silvas on the Aretha Franklin hit, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man." She also sang Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way," which was also the moment she chose to introduce her band. The latter is a fun song, but she's been singing it for many years now. Maybe it's time to retire that one.

What made Lambert's setlist even more encouraging, was just how many of its songs were drawn from the artist's recent "The Weight of These Wings" album. She's not just resting on her laurels, but continuing to record fine songs for future sets.

Jon Pardi preceded Lambert with a lively set of honky tonk songs. Radio hits, like "Head Over Boots" and "Heartache on the Dancefloor" had the crowd singing along, but Pardi also created a tender moment with "She Ain't In it."

Silvas opened the evening with a short set of strong songs. One called "Smoking Your Weed" provided a little harsh advice for a friend. She also sang the bluesy "Who's Lovin' You," a cover of a Jackson 5 song she said had a big impact on her as a young girl.