George Strait and Martina McBride at Xcel Energy Center, 2/15/13

Categories: Last Night

With the rectangular stage centering the arena, the crowd enjoyed equal time gazing upon the performer's front and back. McBride was cordless and without guitar, so she paraded around the stage, winking and waving like Amy Poeller on Parks and Rec and spreading the face time munificently. Strait schlepped his geetar around the four corner-positioned mic stands, singing two or three at each before rotating. Something tells me the middle-aged women weren't complaining at any vantage point.

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Photos by Stacy Schwartz

Look, these two are veterans. Getting an arena full of cowboys and suburban office workers wearing cowboy hats to swoon is all in a night's work. McBride sang "King of the Road" for God's sake -- and damned if the Capitol couldn't hear us when she let us shout that "we AIN'T GOT NO CIGARETTES." Before Strait came on, we were treated a jumbotron montage of King George winning CMAs since the early 1980s. Cheesy? Perhaps. Self congratulatory? Darn tootin'. But that's what the Cowboy Rides Away tour is for. It's a two-way hat tip between the King of Modern Country music and his legions of heartlanders who he helped through a divorce or whose father-daughter wedding dance he soundtracked.

You remove your cap when this cowboy rides away.

George Strait Setlist:
Here For a Good Time
Ocean Front Property
Check Yes or No
I Saw God Today
Drinkin' Man
A Showman's Life
Love's Gonna Make It Alright
Arkansas Dave
Jackson (With Martina McBride)
Golden Ring (With Martina McBride)
Blame It On Mexico
Her Goodbye Hit Me In the Heart
80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper
Honky Tonk Crazy
Marina Del Rey
A Fire I Can't Put Out
The Chair
River of Love
How Bout Them Cowgirls
Stars on the Water
Give It Away
Living for the Night
Amarillo by Morning
Give It All We Got Tonight
I'll Always Remember You
Encore
All My Ex's Live in Texas
Folsom Prison Blues
The Cowboy Rides Away

Critic's Bias: I grew up listening to these songs. They immediately take me back to the car rides of my childhood, and I may have teared up a little when McBride sang "Independence Day."

Random Notebook Dump: George Strait is the Eddie Bauer of Cowboys. You don't pity him like you do George Jones. Did the baby ever really have a toothache?

The Crowd: Wholesome women and iPhone Cowboys.

Overheard: [Referring to McBride]: "She's just like someone's hot mom."
AND
[During every one of Strait's between-song banter]
Wife: "What'd he say?"
Husband [in stitches]: *Repeats everything Strait just said.*


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