As Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” blared through the P.A. system, the Dixie Chicks took the stage at the Sprint Center on Tuesday night, where a sold-out crowd of about 16,000 welcomed them euphorically. They had been sorely missed.
More than 13 years had passed since the Chicks performed in Kansas City. In May 2003, they played a sold-out show at Kemper Arena that followed a volcanic controversy over something the trio’s lead singer, Natalie Maines, had said in March of that year about an impending invasion of Iraq by a coalition that included the U.S. military.
The comment ignited a conflagration of protests, and the Chicks were subsequently banned from all contemporary country radio stations. The war itself eventually ended, but resentment for the Chicks did not, and after a rocky 2006 tour that suffered more than two dozen show cancellations because of poor ticket sales (including a Kansas City date), they retreated and put the band to rest, raising families and working on other music projects.
Earlier this year, they announced the DCX MMXVI World Tour, their first headlining tour of U.S cities in 10 years. The time away did not diminish their appeal or their skills, but, as evidenced by the reaction from the big Sprint Center crowd, it did arouse a longing for their music and their electrifying live shows.
They performed for more than two and a half hours, plumbing a catalog that goes back to 1998 and their breakthrough “Wide Open Spaces” album. The set list included several covers, including Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a twangy version of Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” and a raucous rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi.” It also included a bluegrass instrumental, in which Maines played percussion while sisters Emily Strayer and Marty McGuire showed off their virtuosity on banjo and violin.
Things got political only once, during “Ready to Run,” when the large video screen behind the Chicks and their five-man band broadcast a goofy animation that mocked the entire presidential field.
Otherwise, it was all about the music and favorite songs like “Goodbye Earl,” “Traveling Soldier,” “Truth No. 2” (one of three Patty Griffin covers), “White Trash Wedding,” their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” “Wide Open Spaces” and the country-punk anthem“Sin Wagon,” all of which aroused loud and rowdy sing-alongs all the way up to the last row of the upper-decks, where fans were engaged all night.
They closed with “Not Ready to Make Nice,” their screed against those who banished (and threatened) them for Maines’ comment in 2003, then another cover, “Better Way,” a song about taking a stand and pursuing dreams written by Ben Harper (who co-produced Maines’ solo album, “Mother”). Maines prefaced that with some words about all the hatred and anger in the world. There was none of that in the Sprint Center this evening, though. Instead, the Chicks received 10 years worth of love and appreciation, all of it deserved.
The Long Way Around; Lubbock or Leave It; Truth No. 2; Easy Silence; Some Days You Gotta Choose; Long Time Gone; Nothing Compares 2 U; Top of the World; Goodbye Earl; Traveling Soldier; Don’t Let Me Die in Florida; Daddy Lessons; White Trash Wedding; instrumental; Ready to Run; Mississippi; Landslide; Cowboy Take Me Away; Wide Open Spaces; Sin Wagon. Encore: Not Ready to Make Nice; Better Way.