There is something to be said for having a more open mind. My husband tells me all the time that I’m a dinosaur as far as my concert-going and music-listening. Sure I like Robin Thicke; Blurred Lines is a song I cannot get out of my head! I like The Script, P!NK, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and just love Pitbull to name a few of the artists on the radio today.
But…I listen almost daily to my “Andy Gibb Radio” on Pandora and swoon when I hear Rick Springfield or Air Supply are coming to town. And don’t let me get started on Styx, Loverboy and REO; I love myself some of these guys all day long…
OK, so I may be generalizing and being too self-deprecating just to make my point, but the fact is that I was really fussy last Sunday night when it was time to get ready to drive the 40+ miles down to Chandler for the Sara Evans show at Wild Horse Pass. It was Sunday evening, a time when I watch True Blood, Food Network Star and The Kardashians. We usually have pasta and curl up on the couch with the dogs. Sunday night is my night.
But I promised my husband we’d go months ago when the show was announced. He loves her. She is his # 1 for sure, has been for a long time.
So I won’t hold back any longer, this show was nothing short of amazing. For me, it was quite literally perfection in every way possible. I was moved to tears, laughing, touched, rocking out, standing in my seat and clapping along. Keep in mind, I really only know the hits – and add in that she played two new songs that no-one had ever heard before. I was still digging every moment of it even if I had never heard the song before; a rarity for me for sure—and I suspect for most.
And I suppose I should get this out of the way first. Part of the perfection is just how stunningly gorgeous this woman is. I mean legs that should be insured for millions, the most beautiful shining dark hair, her tanned skin just glows and let’s just state the obvious a ‘full figure’ in all the right places – and as a woman, you don’t even hate her for it! She is so genuine and radiates such a good vibe, you just admire from afar…
Then there is the voice. Sure, she has achieved tremendous fame and accolades as a country singer, so you assume she can sing. But not all people who achieve success in music have that insane gift – like a Whitney or Celine, a Jennifer Hudson – the ability to sing anything perfectly. And even listening to Sara Evans’ records, I didn’t know the true depth of her gift.
Most singers sound better on records than live, not the case for this stunningly brilliant vocalist. This woman BLEW me away. Perhaps it was the five years away from touring and the happiness of her new marriage and the addition of his four kids to her three that made the difference of joy in her life — whatever it is, this girl can sing! And she’s doing it with all the passion and sincere emotion, joy and feeling possible.
Rather than go song by song, let me just say that her set planning was phenomenal. You will hear me refer to set list timing all the time in my reviews—and unfortunately, not all bands get it right. Her set list is below and as you will see, she took the audience on a journey that ended huge –and then brought an encore that not only shocked but wowed the crowd to a well-deserved standing ovation.
Some highlights included the duo of new tunes she played off her forthcoming album. She teased us with the fact that the record company wouldn’t let her disclose the title of first single – but if I was a betting gal, I’d say “Slow Me Down,” might be it. It’s a rocking tune with a great melody and super catchy hook. The other new tune “Put My Heart Down,” was also catchy and easy to listen to. If all the songs on the new album are as good, she’ll have a mega-hit on her hands.
A song I did not know before, but one I instantly fell in love with was “Coal Mine.” From the kind of funk-ey open, with some good old fiddle playing thrown in, this fast-paced fun song was the highlight of the regular set for me if I had to pick – but this set was so strong, it’s hard to pick just one. Speaking of strong…
“Stronger,” the title track from her 2011 album made an impact emotionally on me and I think most of the crowd. I think it’s one she really feels as she is performing it. Something I didn’t know is that Hillary Scott, of Lady Antebellum fame, wrote the song for Evans.
The trio of hits that closed the show packed a big punch, “Suds in the Bucket,” had people dancing in the aisles, “Could Not Ask for More,” was a beautifully sung version and “Real Fine Place” kicked butt.
As Evans left the stage, I wondered what she could do next to keep this high-energy ball rolling. As she came back out to the shouts and screams for more, what came next was so unexpected and so perfect all at once, it may make my all-time top five best encores ever.
At first I couldn’t place the first song, I knew I knew it and loved it…then it hit me – Bruno Mars “Dancing With Another Man.” This is a song that makes me cry as I listen to it driving in the car, I can’t tell you why—it just moves me. To her Sara sing it, making it her own, from a woman’s perspective was just so moving and her voice was spot on perfect.
Then before you know it, the opening lines to the only other song in years that has made me cry, P!NK’s, “Just Give Me a Reason,” was sung with a precision that was actually mind-boggling. I am not sure people give P!NK the credit she deserves for her voice, but this song is incredibly difficult to sing. Sara Evans not only sang it as well—but maybe better than P!NK – and her accompanying guitarist filled in perfectly as the male voice in the song. To say this was an incredible version of the song and an incredible moment in a fantastic show is an understatement.
Then just as perfectly as she opened the show, paced the set and performed as well as anyone could, she picked the most fun song to top off a great night. Another contemporary pop cover, Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks,” was a great way to end the night.
It was such a surprise to hear her do these current pop hits, and done so well! Kudos Sara Evans for being so cool, so gorgeous, so funny, so real, so open and such a fantastic performer! I cannot tell you when I’ve had a better time! (My husband was right…)
Sara Evans Set List – Phoenix, AZ – July 28, 2013
Born To Fly
Saints & Angels
I Keep Looking
Put My Heart Down
Slow Me Down
Heart Can’t Tell You No
Suds In The Bucket
I Could Not Ask For More
A Real Fine Place to Start
Dancing With Another Man
Just Give Me a Reason