Dixie Chicks Let Their Music Do the Talking

Two-Hour Show Worth the 10-Year Wait

CHICAGO — When you wait 10 years between shows, you almost forget how many hits a band has.

Until you listen to two hours of non-stop music and it suddenly feels like it was yesterday that the Dixie Chicks were on top of the world.

It was fitting that Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire scheduled their Chicago show for Sunday (June 5).

That was the very day in 2006 that the trio released what would become the biggest hit of their 20-year career, “Not Ready to Make Nice.” And it felt like every fan in the massive crowd that filled the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre was behind those lyrics 100 percent. They weren’t ready to back down. You could hear it in their voices from “The Long Way Around” opener until the “Not Ready to Make Nice” encore.

For 26 songs — with only a handful of covers, including Sinéad O’Connor’s Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U” — it was like those Dixie Chicks fans never stopped loving the band and their music.

A few surprises along the way kept things from feeling too 2006.

Maines — the group’s lead singer — brought out one of her sons (“How ‘bout my kid,” was all she said) to play guitar on “Sin Wagon” off their 1999 Fly album. The trio played an instrumental song about halfway through their set, reminding the crowd of their deep bluegrass roots. And they performed Patty Griffin’s senior-citizen’s lament, “Don’t Let Me Die in Florida.”

For the majority of the show, Maines, Robison, Maguire and their backing band all wore black, but all of their instruments were white. The banjos, the fiddles, the guitars, the steel guitar, the bass guitar, the drums, the resonator guitar, the tambourine, the mandolin and even the microphone stands — all white. Which made the artistic video backdrop that much more vivid.

The only thing missing from the concert was the usual between-song storytelling. But it was almost unnecessary, because the Dixie Chicks’ music said so much.

Before the encore, Maines did have one thing to say to the fans.

“Hopefully,” she said with an unassuming politeness in her voice, “you guys won’t wait 10 more years before you invite us back.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.