Dixie Chicks 'make nice' in Dawson Creek


On Wednesday morning, a large portion of the Peace Region woke up with ringing ears and smiles because they'd had their socks blown off by the Dixie Chicks the night before at the Encana Events Centre.

To make a long review short, the concert was incredible.

With Dawson Creek being the trio's third stop of their cross-Canada Long Time Gone Tour, Natalie Maines, Emily Erwin Robison and Martie Maguire's energy was obviously still fresh as they hit the stage to a sold out and roaring crowd.

It was a simple set, really, with some industrial metal pillars in the background, but that was it that's all there needed to be, because once the Dixie Chicks started performing, you didn't care about smoky sets, costume changes or pyrotechnics the musicians were the show, like concerts should be.

With Maines hardly recognizable with her recently shorn hairdo styled in a fauxhawk, the littlest member with one of the biggest voices in music opened her mouth to belt out the 1998 hit I Can Love You Better, followed by Wide Open Spaces (also the title of their 1998 album).

Right away the crowd knew they were in for a good show, the kind of show where you look back and think, 'Wow, they sound better than they do on their albums.'

After their first two songs, Maines announced to the crowd that they'd be playing a chronological set list of their five albums, starting with Wide Open Spaces and finishing with Taking the Long Way, taking the crowd "through the years" with the band.

"If you want to stand up, stand up," Maines told the crowd. "I don't care if the person behind you tells you sit down; if you want to stand up and sing, then do it. Do what you want!"

When the Dixie Chicks eventually launched into songs from their 1999 album called Fly, they got one of their loudest cheers when they broke out with the song Ready to Run. Couples began two stepping, friends danced in beer lines and fans sang their hearts out without hesitation.

If Ready to Run didn't get people on their feet, Goodbye Earl certainly got the rest of the 'sitters' up in the crowd, even those at the back of the arena.

"I was told Canada's one of the happiest countries in the world," Maine said between songs, grinning. "The United States is not on that list, so what is it about Canada that makes everyone so happy?"

She paused, looking around. "It's because it's so cold you can't feel pain. You're comfortably numb, and I like that."

The crowd laughed and the band carried on, travelling through their albums year after year playing hit after hit.

Maines' killer vocals backed up by Maguire's fiddle and Robison's banjo were a match made in heaven song after song, whether it was a softer tune like Lullaby that gave you chills, or a high-tempo, foot-stomping song like Sin Wagon, which might have been Maines' most impressive vocal performance of the night.

Heading into their album called Home, songs like the Long Time Gone and Fleetwood Mac cover Landslide drew one of the biggest responses from the night, with Maines yelling, "nice singing!" mid-song.

With the band breaking into their final album Long Way Around, you could almost feel the crowd's anticipation for the song that blew the Dixie Chicks out of country and into international fame Not Ready to Make Nice, the song written in response to the George W. Bush controversy.

But the crowd would have to wait for a few more songs from the album.

Then Silent House, a beautiful, almost eerie song, haunted every nook and cranny of the Encana Events Centre for four minutes. It was like time stopped, and 5,000 paused to listen to three women sing about losing a loved one to dementia in one of the most stunning songs of the night.

After Easy Silence and I Like It to name a few, the band thanked the crowd and left the stage to one of the loudest encore cheers Encana has likely heard in a long time.

Wasting little time, the Dixie Chicks came back out, their "thank yous" drowned out by the crowd.

For their encore set, the band played the popular (and sad) song Travelin' Soldier, followed by what everyone was waiting for, Not Ready to Make Nice and Bob Dylan's Mississippi to finish the show.

When the band took a bow and left the stage with a smattering of waves to the crowd, you could tell people were leaving the arena knowing they'd just seen one of the best concerts of their lives, and the sadness that comes with it being over.

The talent of the Dixie Chicks is something that can't be measured by Grammy Awards or record sales; the chemistry and raw genius of this trio is something you have to see it for yourself, and when you do, it's likely something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

There's really no way to describe it, and fans who see the Dixie Chicks will never forget that they did, so let's leave this by using the band's own words:

"Forget, I don't think I could."

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