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Martina McBride proves incomparable

Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, December 13, 2012

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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Not many artists would draw well on a tour featuring nearly two hours of public domain songs. But when you have one of the most perfect voices in a generation, as Martina McBride does, it's not an issue.

McBride's upbeat 24-song set on her Joy of Christmas tour featured glitzy production and memorable moments. She opened with Let It Snow and bathed the crowd in her silky soprano. The first set featured mainly traditional favorites. A local troupe of young ballerinas took to the stage and danced to White Christmas as McBride beamed proudly.

While singing strong throughout, Christmas songs are unable to showcase the otherworldly firepower of her full voice. Thankfully, she peppered in an extended block of secular numbers and went supersonic on Anyway and I'm Gonna Love You Through It. Both numbers left the house of nearly 3,000 breathless.

A giant video screen was used creatively. At one point, a video montage featured local military sending holiday wishes from overseas. Later, it projected McBride in an eerily realistic virtual duet with Elvis on Blue Christmas. The production of the show was geared toward tempo changes and holiday pageantry. She wore four different outfits. McBride is always tastefully dressed and shined in everything from a classic sequin evening gown to a sassy leather ensemble.

After a brief intermission, she came out rocking with All I Want For Christmas. In a friendly audience participation segment, she strolled casually through the aisles, asking, "Okay, who wants to talk to me?" She gleaned that Apple products are the most requested gifts of American youth and that someone's husband had been granted a hall pass for her. She came off every bit as affable and sweet as fans would expect.

Getting back to business, Pittsburgh Steeler ≈ joined McBride onstage for a performance of the Dr. Seuss classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.While the animated movie played in the background, Kiesel read the lines of the poem as McBride sang You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. The giant 6-5 lineman presented the diminutive singer with the iconic Terrible Towel as a memento.

The term "voice of an angel" is thrown around often during the holidays. If you were there Thursday night, you would swear that one was sent down for a few hours. Maybe on the next tour, she can sing the phone book. It would still be well worth the price of admission. Her voice is simply incomparable.