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From the Country Standard Time Archives

Black proves to be the consumate performer

Houston Astrodome, Houston, Feb. 21, 1998

By Brian Wahlert

HOUSTON - Hometown hero Clint Black lived up to the expectations of the 49,437 fans who came to see him.

In true George Strait Rodeo tradition, Black rode out onto the Astrodome floor on a brown horse, waving a Texas flag, to the roars of the audience. After doing a lap around the floor, his black coat flying up in the air behind him, he dismounted and climbed up to the stage, where he waved the flag a few times and then set it in its mount. The mostly Texan crowd loved every minute of it.

Then Black pulled out his harmonica and started playing the introduction to "Good Run of Bad Luck." Unfortunately, the sound was far too quiet and muffled during this song and its follow-up, "Summer's Comin'."

As soon as the guitar solo began on "Killin' Time," the crowd roared its approval of one of Black's first number-one hits. Frustratingly, the sound mix still wasn't quite right, but Black did the best he could.

Next came Black's first number-one hit song, "Better Man," and he followed that with "Tuckered Out," which, he said, includes the names of 38 country artists. It's a silly wordplay song, but it's fun to try to pick out all of the names cleverly inserted by Black and his guitarist and frequent songwriting collaborator Hayden Nicholas.

Black proved on the next song, the recent hit "Like the Rain," that he's not just living off his old hits, some of which have become country classics. Black picked a gorgeous acoustic guitar introduction to the song, a perfect fit for a night when Houston got one of its worst rainstorms of the winter.

Black performed "Something That We Do," backed only by his own acoustic guitar. Normally, if a performer plays two slow, spare-sounding songs in a row at the less-than-intimate Astrodome, people in the audience start talking to each other or get up to buy popcorn, but Black did an outstanding job of holding the crowd's interest with this beautiful love song.

Black's best song, both lyrically and melodically, is "State of Mind," and helped along by his fiddle and electric guitar players, Black gave a great performance. The song gives such a wonderful explanation for why we all love music in the first place: "Ain't it funny how a melody/Can bring back a memory/Take you to another place and time/Completely change your state of mind."

Black later talked about the terrible Houston traffic and to the crowd's delight named about a half dozen local roads that he hates to drive before playing the bluesy number "Damn This Traffic Jam." After another driving song, "Nothin' But the Taillights," Black got back on his horse and took a lap around the stadium, slapping some front-row fans' hands, before riding away.

Black is the consummate entertainer - an outstanding country singer-songwriter who also plays great guitar and harmonica and tells interesting stories, too. His Rodeo performance was yet another resounding success.