“Whiskey already? I love this town!” declared Miranda Lambert from the stage on day three of the Downtown Hoedown, which took place in Detroit this past weekend (June 8-10). During her very first song, “Fastest Girl in Town,” someone tossed a flask on stage, which in her book, got the show off to the right start (luckily no one got hurt).
One of the current reigning queens of country music, Lambert headlined the closing night of the 30th anniversary Hoedown, an event put on every year by CBS Detroit country station WYCD. Many fans waited hours under the blazing sun, crammed against the fence at the front of the stage, for a chance to see their hero up close. Full of sass, spark, and pure Texas personality, Miranda gave Detroit fans a show to remember.
During her hour-plus set she tore through hits from her entire catalog, from “Baggage Claim,” “Over You,” and “Fastest Girl” (all from her ACM-winning album Four the Record) all the way back to early hits such as “Famous in a Small Town” and “Gunpowder & Lead,” both from her 2007 album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The latter is something of a classic now in modern country music, and from the way the fans fired up hard when she pulled out “Gunpowder,” it’s clear the songs on that album still resonate.
Aside from her solo work, Lambert is also a member of the Pistol Annies, a trio who released their debut last year, Hell on Heels. Her fellow Annies (Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley) took the stage with her halfway through to play several songs together.
And as a special treat, they brought out one more special guest–Detroit’s own rock and roll superstar, Kid Rock. “One of our biggest fans is a hometown boy,” said Miranda, and out he strutted to sing his song “Picture” with Miranda and the Annies. The fans, of course, went crazy–a sea of cellphones were raised into the air to capture the moment–and the Kid seemed genuinely gracious for the love and attention.
How can any artist follow a moment like that? After the Annies and Kid Rock all left the stage, Miranda didn’t flinch. She and her band kicked right into a loud-and-proud version of Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” and immediately she was back in charge.
Further highlights from Miranda’s set included a bouncy “Only Prettier” (preceded by a story of meeting Lady Gaga), “White Liar,” and a beautiful version of one of her signature songs, “The House That Built Me.” She closed with a couple of cover songs–Aretha Franklin‘s classic “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (which she pulled off beautifully), and Roger Miller‘s “King of the Road.” Chris Young, Jerrod Niemann and the Pistol Annies all joined her on the latter, each trading verses.
Speaking of Chris Young, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native preceded Miranda on the Sunday night bill, and he brought along that stellar voice of his, which was in fine form tonight. He ran through a barrage of chart hits including “The Man I Want To Be,” “Voices,” and “You,” and he was all smiles almost the entire time.
While other male singers may adopt the cowboy or ‘rebel rocker’ persona, Chris aims in a more ‘gentlemanly’ direction–even when he’s cranking out serious honky tonk. Maybe a clue to his approach came during “I Can Take It from There.” The song has line about Conway Twitty and his hit “I’d Love To Lay You Down,” and after Young reached that part in the song, he stopped and took a moment to pay tribute to the country music legend, even flashing Conway’s image on the screens at the side of the stage. Like Conway did, Chris has a knack for speaking to — and honoring — the women in his audience.
Chris also got a nice birthday tribute from the Hoedown crowd, who sang “Happy Birthday” to him (he turns 27 on June 12). “That’s a first for me,” he said to the fans, clearly flattered. After that, he launched into a lively cover of the Motown classic “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.”
Earlier in the day the main stage hosted Jerrod Niemann, who’s currently on tour with Miranda and Chris Young (and among the few country artists who’s bringing horns back into the mix, as he talked about in his backstage Hoedown interview); Kip Moore, whose single “Somethin’ ’bout a Truck” just earned two straight weeks at Number One; Craig Campbell (“Family Man”), and Thomas Rhett (“Something to Do with My Hands”).
The night capped off a fantastic three-day weekend of country music performances in downtown Detroit. Day one on Friday featured Josh Gracin and Hunter Hayes, among others, while day two (Saturday) headliners included Dierks Bentley and Montgomery Gentry.
– Kurt Wolff, CBS Local