We attended a modern county music lover’s dream concert last Saturday night in Lubbock at Texas Tech’s United Spirit Arena. Lee Ann Womack opened the concert, followed by Reba McEntire, and ending with George Strait. What a deal!
The day tickets went on sale I had errands to run in Clovis, so with trusty cell phone in hand, and yes, I called as I drove, I started calling the box office when they opened at 9 am and Bill started trying to get through on the website on the computer at home. For the next six, count ‘em, six hours, I pressed the dialed calls icon, pressed the last number called, listened to the recording that all representatives were busy, ended the call, and started the process over. And over. And over. After my last stop before I pulled out of the parking lot, I called one more time and was nearly speechless when I actually heard a human voice answer the phone!
Are there any tickets left, I asked. Yes, but not four together, which is what I needed as we had invited Caroline and Neil to go with us. It was executive decision-making time as I was told I could get four tickets in the same section, but not together. I could get them in sets of two, each with one seat in front of the other. Not a very good set-up, but hey, we would be in the house and could hear the music, so I took them. I didn’t stay on that blasted phone for six hours to come up empty-handed, after all.
So when Saturday came, it turned out that the Tech football team was having their Spring scrimmage that day and the Tech baseball team had a game that day, and all of this was to take place in the same general area on the Tech campus. Parking was going to be a nightmare. And the concert had sold out, so go early was the advice of the day.
And we did. We left Muleshoe at 4, ate at Rosie’s at 5:15, and were parked by 5:40. We were in a steady stream of cars entering the lot, but the walk to the arena wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Then we got to stand in line till 6 when the doors opened, which wasn’t that bad. We were seated by 6":15 and sat side by side until we had to move when the other ticket holders came in. Turned out, though, that Caroline and Neil sat side-by-side for most of the concert, as the people by them didn’t stay for the whole thing.
I saw people, mostly women, wearing cowboy boots that probably had never worn them before, or had dug them out from some dark corner of someone’s closet or found them at the resale shop just for this concert. I and maybe 1,000 other people didn’t wear boots; the other 15,000 did. Of those 15,000, 14, 000 of them would have been better dressed if they had left the boots at home. And that’s all they had on that was even remotely country and western wear. Most looked like they were vying to win the prize for the best tacky costume of the night, not best-dressed concert-goer. Really gaudy boots with shorts, skirts, tank tops, tights, and really tacky dresses-it was amazing. They, of course, were happy as pigs in mud just to be there, so my job as fashion police is a mute point. But still…
The concert actually started on time, 7 pm, with Lee Ann Womack singing for 30 minutes. She is from the Lubbock area, so it must have been a bit disheartening, although probably predictable, for her to look out over the crowd and see lots of empty seats due to people choosing not to come until the big names came out. We had a hard time hearing her singing over the thump-thump of the bass, but she did do a good job with “San Antonio Rose.”
A 20-minute break followed as they prepared for Reba. The seats had filled considerably and the camera flashes were blinding and the noise deafening when she made her entrance. I will have to digress here and tell you about the first time I saw Reba McEntire on stage. The year was 1984 and B.J. Thomas was going to be in Clovis for a concert. New friend Jan King was a B.J. fan, and I grew up going to B.J.Thomas and the Triumphs dances at Riverside Hall in East Bernard, so we decided to go. Turns out the opening act was newcomer Reba McEntire. I knew nothing about her, but I asked for and received her autograph anyway. I don’t remember any of her songs, but I do remember she put on a show, all flash and smoke. B.J. came out and just sang. So now here we are and she is the big name and B.J. is not. And the style is still there; she put on a show and George just sang.
One part of her performance I really enjoyed was “I Want a Cowboy,” with its images of famous cowboys shown on the video screen as she sang. One part I didn’t enjoy was when TV co-star Melissa Peterman came out, and Reba graciously gave up the spotlight to her. About five minutes of her drivel might have been fine; fifteen was way over good taste. Reba did bring the house down, however, with her encore, which had her re-enter the arena in a yellow taxi and fancy red dress to sing “Fancy.”
Reba sang for an hour and forty minutes. After she left, another twenty minute break came to get ready for George. The seats were full this time, and he, too, was given a huge welcome. In true George Strait style, cowboy hat and Wranglers, guitar in hand, he rotated around the stage singing four songs and then moving to the next corner through 28 songs before making his exit and coming back for a rousing encore. To compensate for his laid-back style in comparison to Reba’s, I guess, lights and video images flashed throughout his performance, which, for my money were unnecessary. Just let him sing. His songs are easy to sing along with, and lots of people did, but when he started “All My Exes Live in Texas,” everybody, and I mean everybody, including me, sang with him. That was fun. He said “Amarillo by Morning” is still the favorite song he has ever recorded, but he didn’t sing “Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?’ which I missed. He ended his encore with [that’s when] “The Cowboy Rides Away,” a fitting finale, I thought.
Four and a half hours of country music, but cowboy hats didn’t show up till George Strait showed up, the women were all sequins, and the loud bass and background music could have been mistaken for a rock concert. Times have changed. But this night, good music remained.