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The Dixie Chicks make a welcome return in concert

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The Dixie Chicks performing in June in Cincinnati.
Photo: evin Mazur / Getty Images

Three and a half stars

Dixie Chicks July 16, T-Mobile Arena.

A decade after the last time they performed in Vegas (or headlined a tour in North America at all), country trio the Dixie Chicks sounded freshly invigorated during their Saturday-night concert at T-Mobile Arena. Without any new material (their last album was 2006’s Taking the Long Way), they were content to run through past favorites, along with a handful of covers. Lead singer Natalie Maines, who’s been the Chick most reluctant to tour and record new music, looked happy to be back onstage, interacting warmly with Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer, along with the five-member backing band. The band’s outfits and their instruments were all color-coordinated in high-contrast black and white, a simple approach that allowed the focus to remain on the music. The two-hour set favored the later Chicks albums, but it was less aggressively rock-oriented than on the band’s last major tour. Maybe time away has helped the Chicks come to terms with their country roots.

Although the Chicks (and Maines in particular) are still known for their outspoken political views, the political content in the show was minimal, and largely inoffensive. An image of Donald Trump with a goatee and horns flashed during “Goodbye Earl,” in a montage that was mostly about famous domestic abusers (okay, maybe that was a cheap shot). During the entirely non-political song “Ready to Run,” a video featured goofy animations of various political candidates, from both the right and the left, looking like clowns. And before the show-closing cover of Ben Harper’s “Better Way,” Maines made a vague plea for less hatred in the world. If anyone in the audience was upset about the social commentary, they were easily drowned out by the cheers.

During a stripped-down, mostly acoustic segment, the trio delivered a lovely version of hit “Travelin’ Soldier” on their own, and the full band joined them for lively takes on Patty Griffin’s “Don’t Let Me Die in Florida” and a countrified version of Beyoncé’s already twangy “Daddy Lessons.” When Maines started talking about a recently passed musical icon who had a big influence on her and her fellow Chicks, some might have expected a tribute to Merle Haggard (who’s name-checked in Chicks hit “Long Time Gone”), but instead the group gave a stirring rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” that highlighted the power of Maines’ voice. Although the covers may not quite qualify as new songs, they do indicate that the band has life left. After a decade away, the Chicks left an audience clearly eager to hear more.

Setlist:

“The Long Way Around”

“Lubbock or Leave It”

“Truth No. 2”

“Easy Silence”

“Everybody Knows”

“Some Days You Gotta Dance”

“Long Time Gone”

“Nothing Compares 2 U”

“Top of the World”

“Goodbye Earl”

“Travelin’ Soldier”

“Don’t Let Me Die in Florida”

“Daddy Lessons”

“White Trash Wedding”

Bluegrass medley

“Ready to Run”

“Mississippi”

“Landslide”

“Silent House”

“Cowboy Take Me Away”

“Wide Open Spaces”

“Sin Wagon”

Encore:

“Not Ready to Make Nice”

“Better Way”

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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