The Cowboy Rides Away Tour
w/ Martina McBride
February 23, 2013
XL Center, Hartford, CT
When George Strait left the stage on Saturday night in Hartford, Connecticut, I felt a feeling that I’ve never experienced post-concert before. It was a sadness that came with an immediate realization that it would most likely be the final time I’d ever hear his voice live again. The feeling for the two hours before that was of great admiration for a true musical living legend. The thirty three song set that King George performed was done so with passion, grace, and without the frills that most performers need to accompany their live performances.
Martina McBride opened the show with an hour long performance of her own. I had never seen her live before and her voice was very impressive. The squared shape “in the round” styled stage, which placed a microphone at all four sides, seemed to take away from Martina’s performance as she did not capture the audience’s attention as much as when George was out there. Nonetheless, her vocals were beautiful as she went through her catalogue of hits. She also appeared on stage during George’s set for a Johnny Cash & June Carter song, “Jackson”‘, as well as “Golden Ring”‘, a George Jones & Tammy Wynette cover.
Before George took to the stage, video clips of award shows and past memories played on the various screens around the XL Center. Also, clips of other artists played with messages for King George, including Tim McGraw, Reba, Ronnie Dunn, Kenny Chesney, and Blake Shelton. The lights went low, and George walked on stage with his signature black hat and black guitar. He belted out “Here For a Good Time” and the two hour sing-a-long began.
Mid-way through the show, George strategically placed songs in a chronological order of his time as an artist as he sang older songs such as “80 Proof Bottle off Tear-Stopper” and “Honky-Tonk Crazy”. He broke up the normal chain of events when he sang “Happy Birthday” to his wife and gave a wounded warrior and his wife a new house plus groceries for a year. The crowd was in the palm of his hands with every move and each song.
There were no flashy screens, extravagant light shows, or pyrotechnics needed. Just a man with a guitar and a microphone, making his way around the stage so each side of the arena could get a glimpse of him as he sang his stories. It is what makes George Strait so unique in comparison to most artists, you don’t need the “show” of a concert; instead, you just want to hear and see the man who has fifty-nine #1 hits do what God intended him to do.
The crowd cheered just by the opening notes of a few songs, such as “Amarillo By Morning”, “Ocean Front Property”, “Stars on the Water” and “Give It Away”. Other tunes, such as “I’ll Always Remember You”, “Troubadour” and the final number, “The Cowboy Rides Away” brought the emotional feelings on as you could see those song’s words meant as much to the man himself as it did for the crowd.
All in all, it was a concert event that I will never forget. I really hope this was not the last time I ever see George Strait live, but with the announcement of his retirement from touring it seems inevitable. But if it was, it was a display of perfection by the King of Country Music, complete with true class all the way… but would anyone expect anything else as the Cowboy Rides Away.
- Here For a Good Time
- Ocean Front Property
- Check Yes or No
- I Saw God Today
- Drinkin’ Man
- A Showman’s Life
- Love’s Gonna Make It Alright
- Arkansas Dave
- Jackson (Johnny Cash & June Cover, sung with Martina McBride)
- Golden Ring (George Jones & Tammy Wynette Cover, sung with Martina McBride)
- Happy Birthday (sung for his wife)
- Blame It On Mexico
- Her Goodbye Hit Me In the Heart
- 80 Proof Bottle of Tear-Stopper
- Honky-Tonk Crazy
- Marina Del Rey
- A Fire I Can’t Put Out
- The King of Broken Hearts
- Where the Sidewalk Ends
- The Chair
- River of Love
- How Bout Them Cowgirls
- Stars on the Water
- Give It Away
- Amarillo By Morning
- Give It All We Got Tonight
- I’ll Always Remember You
- Same Kind of Crazy (ENCORE)
- All My Ex’s Live In Texas (ENCORE)
- Folosm Prison Blues (Johnny Cash Cover) (ENCORE)
- The Cowboy Rides Away (ENCORE)