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Dreams continue for Vince Gill

Hanover Centre for the Performing Arts, Worcester, Mass., April 27, 2010

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Jenny Gill was three years old when her father, Vince, wrote Jenny Dreamed of Trains before playing the tender song, Gill said in 10 or 12 days his daughter would be walking down the aisle. How times have marched on for Gill.

His star may not be what it once was, but never mistake for that for a decline in any skill or quality. Just the opposite. Clocking in at just over than 2 hours, the self-described (jokingly, of course) "Bruce Springsteen of country" put on yet another meaty, diverse, satisfying and, of course, humor-laden show.

Gill, 53, has not put a new album since his mammoth, 4-CD set "These Days," a great album of rock, country, blues and jazz. In some respects, it was his swan song to the commercial country. After all, he has not had a top 20 single since 2002! So, the hits may not be coming like they used to in the '90s, but Gill's multitudinous skills remain intact.

Gill got the evening off to a chugging, spry One More Last Chance, a lively workout for he and his band. Gill's voice grew stronger as the evening wore on. That was never so much evident than in the chestnut, I Still Believe in You where he easily hit the very high notes on the compelling cut before slipping into the closing song of the regular set, the bouncy Liza Jane. The songs retain their catchiness and energy, while Gill's vocals were enough to give the emotion requisite by the songs.

The honky tonk (Real Mean Bottle), cheating (Pocketful of Gold) songs all worked. Gill threw two new songs into the mix, including The Red Words, a song about his wife Amy Grant, who he apparently has a tremendous amount of love for based on his songs and frequent comments.

Gill was one funny performer as usual, telling a few stories he previously has told including about fooling some woman at a karaoke bar in Washington, saying he could not sing. But showing that he was a good guy, Gill eventually told her the truth, gave her tickets for the next night's show, and she's been coming to his shows for 20 years. But he also responded and reacted to the crowd as the show wore on with his spontaneity enjoyable.

As usual, Gill was aided by a top-notch backing band ranging from key player Billy Thomas on drums, who set a great beat time and again, to Russ Pahl on steel and Dawn Sears on backing vocals. Most have been with Gill for a long time, but like their leader, they do not go through the motions.

The crowd was mainly gray hairs as Gill's audience is not getting any younger. And they would occasionally shout out song requests and asking for him to take off his shirt a bit too much to the point where it got annoying, but Gill handled it fine.

Gill is aging most gracefully. Fortunately, he has a plethora of excellent material to fall back on, while also looking ahead. The dreams continue for Gill.