Whoever invented the phrase “Hot August Nights” should’ve been at the chilly Chris Beck Arena on Monday night, where a constant line of girls in tank tops and daisy dukes forked over cash to the blanket-and-poncho stand right inside the gates to get warm.
But cold though it was in the grandstands, Miranda Lambert‘s high-octane set lit the near-capacity crowd on fire, from raucous covers of Creedence Clearwater’s “Travelin’ Band” and the Faces’ “Stay With Me” to smash-hit sing-alongs “Dead Flowers” and “Gunpowder and Lead.”
Hitting the stage to Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now” on the P.A., Lambert kicked things off with a blazing “Kerosene” and spiraled around the stage with her mohawked bassist, her mic stand made from a rifle and her strobe stage lighting. This set the high-energy tone of the night—Lambert at one point rocked a pink Fender Stratocaster—but didn’t detract from the concert’s more poignant moments, in particular “The House That Built Me,” a heartwrenching ballad that had an entire arena singing along like a Norman Luboff choir.
Lambert joked repeatedly, introducing “Dry Town” with a shout-out to wine country; she later quipped that “it says very clearly in the Bible that Jesus drank wine, so I hope y’all don’t judge us as beer drinkers tonight.” And although girls swooned when she showed off her ring from fiancé Blake Shelton, no patter got as loud of a squeal as her exultant introduction to frenemy anthem “Only Prettier”: “This one goes out to all the skinny beyy-otches!”
Overall, the show succeeded at what all good country shows aim to do, which is to bring like-minded people together for a celebration of fandom. Strangers smoked cigarettes and danced with each other. Fans rushed the front together to take photos. Guys begged to be let backstage. People who clearly didn’t know each other shared stories and sang along.
There was just one misstep—for as many great songs as Lambert’s written on her own, it felt off-balance when she encored with the overplayed karaoke anthem “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” But by that point, after working up such favor with the crowd, it truly didn’t matter. “I hope y’all’ll have us all back next year,” Lambert said, and as the Ferris Wheel spun in the distance, the entire crowd of Stetsons, uggs, 501s, flannels and miniskirts covered in blankets and ponchos roared their approval.
Famous in a Small Town
More Like Her
Time to Get a Gun
Heart Like Mine
Stay With Me
Maintain the Pain
The House That Built Me
Sin for a Sin
That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round
Gunpowder and Lead
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
(Read this week’s Bohemian story on Miranda Lambert here.)