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Gretchen Wilson/Trace Adkins

Alltel Pavilion

Thursday, May 25

They came to see the "Redneck Woman," but at Thursday's show at Alltel Pavilion, Gretchen Wilson was more of a rock 'n' roll diva.

Second-billed Trace Adkins delivered the country goods. Opener Blaine Larsen kept it even more country, his band playing raunchy honky-tonk behind Larsen's spot-on covers of Merle's "Working Man" and George Strait's "All My Exes."

click to enlarge Rock chick or redneck woman? Gretchen Wilson and her belt at Alltel Pavilion. - PHOTO BY JASON MOORE
  • Photo by Jason Moore
  • Rock chick or redneck woman? Gretchen Wilson and her belt at Alltel Pavilion.
Z.Z. Top entertained between sets over the house's sound system until Adkins was introduced: "From the football field to the oil fields to the stage--6-foot-6 Trace Adkins."

The crowd went wild, and there he was, long and lean in a big black hat, blonde ponytail hanging down nearly to his waist. "I sing a little bit of country mixed with a little rock and a little blues," Adkins sings on "Song's About Me." It's true--his act is old-school country vocals backed by a bunch of rockers who dig his genre.

On "This Ain't No Thinkin' Thing," Adkins demonstrated that he has a voice that lets him ramble the range from a high-pitched howl to a low-down growl. Adkins got down on "I Left Something Turned on at Home," his voice warm and sexy, fans wiggling even before he started doing pelvic thrusts on "Hot Mama."

"Arlington"--"And every time I hear twenty-one guns, I know they brought another hero home"--sounds like Adkins' political statement, but he says it isn't. Instead, he insists it's about respecting those who paid the ultimate price; if you don't respect that, he says he'll take you out back and teach you something. After slapping grandma around on "Honkytonk Badonkadonk" and plugging Gretchen Wilson three times, he was off and back again for an encore of "Chrome," as much metal as country.

Wilson's biggest country tease came between sets, with hits from Kitty Wells' "Honky Tonk Angels" to Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter" baiting the crowd. The set that followed confused the audience. Moments of Billy Vera's "Stroke Me" and AC/DC's "Back in Black" introduced the self-proclaimed redneck woman, who came out too slicked up to meet her own criteria. The stage was too busy, with a set Pink Floyd would envy, pyrotechnics the Stones would love and a light show Star Trek should claim. It dwarfed Wilson and ultimately cheapened her act. Her band might have been playing pretty good honky-tonk even, but they were drowned out, too, battered by a drummer who apparently aspired for Led Zeppelin.

Fans finally got to hear her voice as she Patsy Clined "From the Lips of a Bottle I'll Steal One More Kiss," a duet with Blaine Larsen. She did a beautiful version of Billie Holiday's "Good Morning Heartache," and nailed Loretta's "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man." With all the filler finally cut from behind her, she managed to fill the venue with her voice.

Alas, she lost the crowd with Heart's "Barracuda" and Zep's "Black Dog," leaving most in the crowd dazed and confused. "All Jacked Up" got the younger ones dancing in the aisles before she ended the show with a fiery pyro bang and the requisite "Redneck Woman" encore. But most had already headed for the exits, having had enough rockin' redneck for one night.

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