"Somewhere Down In Texas" Tour
St Louis Concert, February 17th 2006
My Review of the performance, and Strait experience:
Needless to say, George did an awesome concert in St Louis. He came on a bit late at 9:25 p.m. and stayed on stage until 11:10 p.m., working his heart out the entire time - while having a lot of fun. It was a much different audience from Vegas, and a bit different show.
We left our hotel for the short walk in the cold and wind to get to our seats as Tracy Lawrence's crew were setting up. He did a good show, but the crowd was there for the main event. We waited patiently, watched the Ace in the Hole members come out and set up, and waved hello. The recorded music continued, every now and then someone would yell "Geoorrrge!" Then finally it was time for the Man.
The lights darkened, the Ace in the Hole took the stage, and played "Deep in the Heart of Texas." I heard the crowd scream and knew George was on his way down the aisle. Then I saw the brilliant glare of a white shirt, and watched him approach down the security aisle. George strolled on stage wearing that gorgeous white shirt which showed off his Texas tan wonderfully. He waved at fans, strolled in front of us, did a slight bow and pointed. Then he walked to his guitar stand and strapped on his guitar, beat the side of it with his hand, keeping rhythm with the band, and then started "Honk If You Honkytonk" and got that crowd warmed up fast.
During "She Let Herself Go" I watched the cords and veins in his throat as he reached for notes, putting his heart into the song, and as he made certain movements with his shoulders I noticed his chest/clavicle area and I became aware that the chain that he had worn last year definitely was not there - for whatever reason, he chose not to wear it this tour. That white shirt is still one of my favorites, he looks so classy and dressed up, and it fits him so well. He wore the dark Justin boots for winter -- and it was cold outside. However, looking at George I was warming up real fast. He wore the classic black Resistol - and ohhh baby he looked good.
We had a grand view from our front row seats of two sides of the stage- from the "front" where he opens, and to the left of front. After he did "Cowboys Like Us" he tapped his upper chest, and then looked over at Benny, raised an eyebrow, and made a face. I got the feeling that he is not at 100% yet, but he is close. Dang, he was awesome, the entire concert. He basically did the same set list as Vegas just changing a few tunes. (Didn't do "The Fireman")
George was relaxed and flirting with his audience, waving here and there. The man strolled from microphone to microphone - in no hurry - pausing here and there to look into the audience. There was a cute little girl on our left, I am guessing about 10, who seemed to get his attention simply by watching him closely, smiling, and singing along. As I watched him react with her I thought of Jenifer and what a loss he and Norma must still be feeling. She has been gone 20 years now, and would have been 33 years old. He most likely would have been a grandpa by now.
I noticed the men in our section standing and singing along with him, watching him intently. He is a man's man, and a woman's ideal man. It was nice to see.. and it was a great crowd, who appreciated the performance they were experiencing.
There was the typical sexy young blonde woman who was trying to go from side to side "chasing" George around the stage. The Security Dept. was good; they kept turning her away from the front row, so she couldn't get to George. He finally turned and looked at her with the funniest expression, just laughed, and then turned and walked away to the microphone to continue his show. I had to giggle at him... how many ladies had he reacted to in that way.
I watched him intently whenever he was near, knowing that it would be a long time before I saw him in concert again. During several songs he'd glanced over and would always find us enjoying him, focusing on every movement, every expression, and every note. When he did "You'll Be There" in front of us I found myself in a trance. I watched every expression and movement, and concentrated on every note, but there was deep emotion with this song. I found myself tearing up towards the end. The song just really hit me hard at that moment in particular for some reason -- the emotion he put into it, and the words. The loss of Jenifer came to mind and I hurt for him.
I put my camera up with the last few notes from the band still hanging in the air. I looked through the lens, focused in on his face, and took the picture. He looked at the floor, his handsome face in deep thought, waited until there was no sound reverberating then turned, looked directly into my eyes, and pointed at me. Shock ran through me, I pointed back at him in acknowledgement. He then continued to the next microphone on the stage. The emotion of the song, and the lyrics had hit me hard. It was a powerful performance. He must have felt me focused on him, and reacted.
At the end of "High Tone Woman" he was listening to the applause, smiled, and then changed the emotion of the moment in the blink of an eye - he licked his lips with that tongue of his. I laughed at him and shook my head, and watched him "chuckle." He knows what he's doing, every second he is on that stage.
I forget which song it was. most likely it was during "Tulsa" - he was on the left side of the stage but with my seat he was still in front of me, I just had the side view. I got a few shots of him reaching for notes, rocking up on his heels. How I love to watch him work; stretching and moving when he pulls those notes from his diaphragm. Then he would stroll over and look into his audience, playing his guitar and teasing his audience the way he does. He would turn his Wrangler label and keep time to the music. He did that a lot... and every time he did there was a flurry of camera flashes going off. I grinned at his antics, and the audience reaction to him. I took several shots myself, of course. When he strolled back to the microphone he was smiling, he smiled so big.
"Folsum" was hott, the band is so damn tight and so good, and George just simply belts that song out like nobody's business. He did a great job, it was an awesome concert, and as always I am amazed at his vocals, and the quality of his voice.
Most of all for this show though, I was thoroughly touched and intrigued by the emotion that this man conveys in the songs he is interpreting - with perfect vocals. There is currently no one else in the industry with the ability this man has, no singer with the talent and voice, charisma, or clean quality. He is who he is, and with him there is mystery because of his demand for privacy. There is no falseness in his nature. For me there is no one better, never has been, never will be. Same goes for the Man as a person, with his high standards in the tradition of a Texas man, his wonderful witty sense of humor, and deep loyalty to his wife and his family, and friends. Ain't nobody else like George Strait, he's one hell of a singer, a kind man, and a fine, fine person.
It was a wonderful trip in all ways, I had dreaded the start of the trip because I knew it was my last show of the year. By the time the band had stopped playing, and the cowboy had ridden away towards his Birmingham concert I found tears in my eyes again.. 'cause it was over. I sat down to ease my aching legs, collected my winter coat that I had finally gotten to use again, put my camera and film carefully away, said good bye to Benny and Rick, and walked out into the cold. Our Hotel would now feel empty with him gone - an abrupt return to reality. *sigh But I take with me - again - the many emotions, and the many fine moments that this man gives.
Thank goodness I can go home and listen to George whenever I want to. I used my personal CD player on the plane as I sipped a Bailey's Irish crème, listening to him as I wrote in my logbook all the special looks, his pointing at me, other things he had done, and the emotions running through me that I wanted to remember.
While the clouds slipped away underneath the plane like an ocean, and the sunset blazoned the sky with shades of red, gold, and orange I was thinking back about this performance. All of his familiar subtle moves came to mind; that smile, his charismatic stage presence, his silky baritone, awesome vocals, and those intense seagreen "miss nothing" eyes.
George Strait is a Texas original, a treasure, wrapped up in one awesome package, and yet he is so human. I wouldn't have missed this ride all these years for the world. And after 35 years, over 400 concerts, and many miles and memories later, the ride isn't over yet, not quite yet.
-- Linda Robbins / Straitfever
"So I'll see you on the other side, if I make it
And it might be a long hard ride, but I wanna take it
Sometimes it seems that I don't have a prayer
I let the weather take me anywhere
But I know I wanna go where the streets are gold
'cause you'll be there" ....