Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
iranda Lambert had plenty reason to be in great spirits as her week closed. On Wednesday, she lead the Country Music Association nominations with 10. On Saturday, she headlined the outdoor shed for the first time.
Lambert is touring in support of her strongest album yet, the very fine "Platinum," which goes from honest to goodness honky tonk to rock. Lambert trotted out six songs from "Platinum" on this night with the best of the batch the hard core country song, "Old Sh!t." Lambert deserves credit for even recording a song with that title because there is zippo chance that song is going to reach the airwaves. So, instead, she has the confidence to play it live instead of only pushing radio fodder.
Lambert played it about mid-way through her 85-minute (on this count, more of Lambert would have been most welcome considering her extensive song catalogue) as part of a one-two unplugged-gather-around-the-mike punch. After offering songs that were rocking, but on the ballsy side (the lead-off songs of the night, "The Fastest Girl in Town" and "Kerosene"), it was a smart move to a down home on the farm bent.
Lambert started the mini-set with "Me and Charlie Talking," one of two songs she played from her very first major label disc, "Kerosene," in 2005 and a song she's played live for years. Lambert then tore into "Old Sh!t" with Dobro prominent in the mix.
One problem that hurt Lambert on occasion was that her vocals sometimes were barely heard above her sometimes loud band, especially when they rocked. But she also rose above the fray with her powerful delivery of "Baggage Claim" with excellent video supporting the song of depictions of moving baggage and later in the show with her feisty delivery of "Little Red Wagon" from "Platinum" where she makes it crystal clear who wears the pants and "White Liar."
Lambert still doesn't seem entirely comfortable in her role as a country music star. She wants to come off as a bit of a bad girl with lots of references to guns and smoking and drinking (with some of them rolled together as on "Smokin' and Drinkin'"), but she doesn't come off that way in reality.
The show was not free flowing, seemingly choreographed from start to finish. (The start, in effect, was really a preamble to the show with the "Somethin' Bad" video with Carrie Underwood, indicating that Lambert was not going to replicate the song live).
That was partially a result of relying on videos - many of them quite good - to go mash with the song, but that also means that singer and video must align or else.
Lambert never has been a particularly chatty type on stage - pleasant, sometimes outwardly appreciative without even saying anything (she seemed to get emotional after the crowd took a chunk of lyrics).
But Lambert has a great starting point with her songs (no need to have closed with ZZ Top's "Give Me All Your Lovin'" by the way. One of her ballads would have sufficed just fine). And she is coming along in other areas. After all, pretty much at the top level among female country singers is a nice place to be.
Times are real good for Lambert. The chance to win a few awards and sing for your fans can do that for you.