TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — That Miranda Lambert, she’s a pistol. In more ways than one. At her concert here Thursday night (Sept. 8), she fired a few shots at the lack of beer at the venue (which is on a college campus) and the tabloids that “really pissed me off.” And, of course, don’t forget her bullet-riddled hits like “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder & Lead.”
At the same time, she’s almost girlish when she bands together with the Pistol Annies, her new trio with singer-songwriters Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe. During their four-song set, the women couldn’t stop cheerfully throwing their arms around shoulders and playfully punching each other for comic effect.
When you go to Lambert’s The Revolution Continues tour, you’ll see a lot of different sides of the country star. There’s the sassy Miranda, as on “Only Prettier,” which opened the show with a big response. “Famous in a Small Town” shows she’s comfortable and down-home. When she told the audience she’d spent the day driving around in a van, going to a tanning bed and Sears, you could almost see the thought clouds above fans’ heads that read: “She’s one of us!”
Lambert is also fond of the songs that can be depressing (“Dead Flowers” ), introspective (“More Like Her” ) and powerful (“Bring Me Down”). Although she’s the reigning CMA female vocalist, she also clearly loves her rock ’n’ roll, as evidenced by her covers of “Rock ’n’ Roll, Hoochie Koo” and, yes, “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.”
She acknowledged the venue, the Hulman Center, wasn’t selling beer (“I’m very, very, very sorry”) and told the audience they could at least take comfort in the fact that they were at a Miranda Lambert concert and that, hey, tomorrow’s Friday, and they can go somewhere where they’re selling beer. Maybe it’s because it was a school night or that college kids are always cash-starved, but the last 10 to 12 rows all around the Hulman Center concert venue were essentially empty. However, every merchandise line before the show stretched about 50-people long.
About an hour into the show, Lambert told the crowd she’d just come back from a stretch with her new husband, Blake Shelton. And that’s when she mentioned some tabloid stories were getting her goat. She didn’t elaborate but said we could all help her take out “rage on all those people” via her new single, “Baggage Claim.” She especially dedicated it to the ladies, and on the last line, she caustically demanded that the do-wrong man “come and get your sh–.”
Then she reached pretty far back into her catalog for “Brand New Strings,” a bright tune about making your way through the ranks of country stardom. She’s come a long way, that’s for sure.
And then it was back to the future. Obviously thrilled to be playing in an arena, Monroe and Presley joined Lambert on three songs from the Pistol Annies’ recent No. 1 country album, Hell on Heels. Presley stood in the middle — and she has the stage presence to own it. Monroe, who is on the highest-allowed dose of Prozac, according to one lyric, tends to float around the stage, while Lambert’s demeanor falls somewhere between the two. They concluded their too-brief set with a rowdy cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City.”
Because the lighting was the only special effect during this set, they had to rely on just the music to be entertaining — and they easily pulled it off. After reminding the audience she’s been scraped over the coals lately, Lambert noted, “That’s why I bring my girls … because they’ve got my back.”
After Monroe and Presley exited the stage, Lambert announced that her own solo album, Four the Record, was coming soon. When the remark brought mediocre applause — remember that nobody was drinking — she paused and demanded, “Be more excited!”
She unveiled one more new song which she hopes will be the second single. An up-tempo number titled “Mama’s Broken Heart,” it relies on a musical hook reminiscent of a carnival attraction. The song is about the temptations of drinking too much, smoking too much and cutting off all your hair after a breakup — and that’s not what mama would do now, is it?
Naturally, she delivered terrific versions of “The House That Built Me,” underscored by a digital scrapbook of childhood photos, as well as “White Liar,” the inescapable hit that went on to become her first No. 1 single.
“Cheers with water, y’all!” she said when she returned for an encore. “I’m not drinking water, by the way.”
Next time, she said, she’ll play somewhere with beer.
Always in tune, Little Big Town opened the show with a nice mix of recent material and familiar favorites. Newcomer Charlie Worsham, a singer-guitarist, opened the show with a six-song set.