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George Strait

For the Last Time: Live From the Astrodome – 2003 (MCA)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by George Strait

George Strait has waited 21 years for a special occasion to release his first live album, and when he played the last Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo show at the Astrodome last March, he found it. The most beloved performer in Rodeo history, Strait drew the largest crowd ever for any Astrodome event - nearly 70,000 fans.

The night was a celebration of Rodeo history, but it was more importantly a celebration of Strait's outstanding career, as he sang classics like "Amarillo by Morning," "The Fireman," and "The Chair" and recent songs like "Living and Living Well" and "She'll Leave You With a Smile." Strait was in great voice on this night, and his band supported him well, from the mandolin flourishes on "Run" and the crying steel guitar on "I Can Still Make Cheyenne" to the crack western swing of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and "Take Me Back to Tulsa."

President George Bush (the first one) summed it up when he presented Strait's lifetime achievement award that night: "Everybody at the Rodeo loves him, everyone in Texas loves him, and everyone across our country loves his music."