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Steel Magnolia can duet

Hard Rock Cafe, Boston, May 4, 2011

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Other recent concert reviews
There is no doubt about the answer to the question "Can You Duet?" regarding Steel Magnolia's Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones. Not only did the pair - a couple in real life as well - win season two of the show, but they amply demonstrated the answer is "yes" live as well.

Linsey and Jones certainly were a team that showed a lot of stage comfort during their 75 minutes, presumably far longer than their usual allotted time as an opening act. Inhabiting a small stage without their usual backing band, they clicked well, sometimes starting at their own mic before moving over to hover over a lone mic.

Steel Magnolia would not be accused of being very traditional on the country quotient - made clear from the catchy opening Ooh La La. . They're not all that different from the other pop-leaning country acts out there today.

Jones has a very soulful voice, while Linsey's is big, sometimes real big, but she didn't overwhelm her partner. They alternated who started songs, sometimes trading lyrics, often incorporating a duet into the mix - always to good effect.

Interestingly, two of the best songs of the night from Steel Magnolia were very traditional country cover songs. They turned in nice readings of Jackson made famous by Johnny and June Carter Cash, and After the Fire is Gone, done by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.

Seeing how strong Steel Magnolia's versions were, it made you wish they styled themselves more along those lines.

The pair offered several new songs, including one played for the very first time. Impatient and You're On My Mind both sounded like they were worthy of being on a sophomore release.

Jones tended to be more the focal point when it comes to making comments. The only problem was the longer the concert progressed, the less likable he became. Jones must told have the crowd literally half a dozen times how much he loved us. It was almost like the lady doth protest too much. Save all that love that you have for Meghan.

On the other hand, Linsey and Jones did not seem like they had their whole evening mapped out. Far from it. That appeared true in song selection (for some reason they played Last Night Again twice. The very odd aspect was that they both fumbled lyrics on the second go-round for some reason. No wonder Linsey asked Jones "Why?" when he announced they would play reprise the song) and comments.

While Jones promptly pumped up the Boston Bruins who were playing not too far away in the playoffs, Linsey made it clear early on she was not a big hockey fan. She admitted to linking football, hoping that would soothe the crowd. You have to give Linsey for being honest instead of pandering.

Steel Magnolia occupy a unique place in the country scene today. Aside from Joey + Rory, the duet ingredient of country history is missing from the scene. With knowledge of its place in history, Steel Magnolia seemed ready to accept the mantle for this generation of country.

Opening act Kip Moore may have hit on the head in his introduction to Drive Me Crazy. "Some people get offended about songs with sexual (references). If that's the case, this record might be banned."

The Georgian's debut, which may come out this summer, probably won't get banished for subject matter.

Nor will it based on the 9 songs he played during his 40-plus minute set.

Moore's hung around Nashville for nine years, and he is gaining some play with Mary Was the Marrying Kind. Moore is affable, on the down home side, and yes, his songs do have a lot of sexual references.

In another era, one would be hard pressed to identify Moore's music as country. He has a gritty, soulful quality to his voice, which was mixed high above the three acoustic guitars on stage (he and his two sidekicks).

Moore has a few songs about Marys and a few songs about vehicles (There's Something About a Truck and I've Got a Motorcycle - or something like that). He told a few humorous stories about a girl in high school he dated, who seemed to get excited about him once he gave up his sedan for a truck. Neither song topped Kenny Chesney's She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy by any stretch, and some level they are certainly corny too.

Moore grew far more serous in looking at his life in Still Growing Up and his hopes for a real relationship (Hey Pretty Girl).

Life is good, maybe getting better for Moore, and he's trying to make the most of his chance, he said. Unless radio does give him the boot.