TIMOTHY FINN

Lambert, Bentley give big country crowd a rocking good time

Updated: 2013-03-11T01:35:40Z

By TIMOTHY FINN

The Kansas City Star

This wasn’t officially a co-headlining show, but it might as well have been. Miranda Lambert was the official headliner, but when her second opener, Dierks Bentley, hit the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, the Sprint Center was almost as full as it would be all night.

Lambert and Bentley cracked the country music scene at about the same time — 2003 or so — and in the 10 years since, each has progressed steadily up the stardom spectrum. Their music is a blend of contemporary and traditional country. Both can swing easily from incendiary country-rock anthems to tender love ballads.

When Lambert followed her raucous cover of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” with the heavily synchopated “Mama’s Broken Heart,” the crowd of about 10,000 or so took it all joyously in stride.

After a short set by opener Lee Brice, Bentley came out and opened with “Am I the Only One,” a track from his sixth album, “Home,” released a year ago this month. He is scruffy, favors T-shirts and jeans, and like several of his peers, Bentley wears a baseball cap instead of a cowboy hat. For most of the show he wore it backward, which gave him the look of a Southern frat boy trying to keep his GPA above water.

He sings about partying (“Tip It on Back”) and having a wild time (“What Was I Thinking”), but he also sings about love and romance, as in “Come a Little Closer,” a ballad that includes the line “I feel like layin’ you down / on a bed of sweet surrender.” Thus, the ladies really like him.

He and his band showed off their rock licks several times, as in “Sideways.” But they turned “Settle for a Slowdown” into an acoustic, bluegrass number. He closed with “Home,” after acknowledging a fan’s sign promoting Glasgow, Mo., where Bent-ley’s father was born.

Lambert opened with “Fastest Girl in Town,” one from her latest album, “Four the Record.” She played four others from that one, including “Baggage Claim,” yet another country-rock anthem about the no-good men in her life. She also sang “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder and Lead,” in which the scorned woman exacts revenge for her bruises and wounds.

Despite all the good songs she has written, especially several on her big-label debut, “Kerosene,” Lambert likes to stock her set lists with covers. After the Mountain cover, she sang two more: a version of the Beatles’ “Get Back” that sounded like a wedding band’s cover and a worthwhile version of “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.”

Both performers brought fans onstage to perform: a young woman strummed an electric guitar during Bent-ley’s set; a young girl sang a verse of “Over You” during Lambert’s.

The sound could have been cleaner, but it didn’t dampen the response. The crowd was energized throughout both sets, singing along, often without prompting, and reacting vocally to the array of images on the screen at the back of the stage.

The show ended with Lambert and Bentley onstage, singing one of his songs, “Bad Angel,” in bluegrass style. It’s a song about resisting temptation and warding off evil, but, like much of the rest of the evening, this one just felt like another good-time country song.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/phinnagain. Read more from him at our music blog, Back to Rockville, at KansasCity.com.

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