Sept. 28--There was a point during Miranda Lambert's performance Thursday at the United Spirit Arena when I could not help but think back to Julia Roberts' performance as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie in 1989's "Steel Magnolias," at least to the point when she tells her mother, "Pink is my signature color."
It also may be Lambert's signature color, because she often performed on a part of the set inspired by her pink guitar.
That, however, is where comparisons would end, because there was nothing at all weak about Lambert during her co-headlining appearance with fellow recording artist Dierks Bentley.
Regardless, it was interesting to note that both performers opted not to depend solely on music to carry their shows.
Rather, large screens found both artists making use not only of many of their country music videos, but also images of popular sites in Lubbock and more.
One clever combination of music and imagery was Lambert's fun delivery of the Beatles' "Get Back," which inspired her to go back in time and display photos of herself and band members as very young musicians, simultaneously letting fans see where they grew up.
Then again, Bentley kept his head covered with a gimme cap, worn backward, during much of the show, eventually explaining that he'd simply cut his hair.
"Don't worry, it will grow back," he said.
He laughingly poked fun at himself by saying, "The girls always did like the curls," then shared a series of older photos.
That allowed him to introduce hits from what he calls his "big hair days," having loads of fun bringing back comic songs "How Am I Doin'?" and especially "What Was I Thinkin'?"
Both songs still work.
Actually, Bentley has made several supporting appearances in Lubbock, but Thursday's may be his most entertaining, certainly his most polished, to date.
His set was high energy from the start, and he trusted the audience early on to interact by singing choruses to such songs as "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)."
Fans rarely disappointed him.
He also made more friends by choosing a high-spirited woman from the audience to join him on stage. She appeared to be having the time of her life, pretending to play his guitar.
Bentley still had his drinking songs, and songs in which he emphasizes leaving as much as loving.
But camera phones emerged in larger numbers when he grouped his band at the highest part of the set during "Up on the Ridge," having already made plans to use flames as special visual effects.
The crowd of approximately 7,300 -- far from a sellout -- ate it up.
An older, more experienced Bentley has harder hitting songs that work for obvious reasons. His encore was delayed until after Lambert's set for good reason. His own set concluded with his transforming "Home" into an even more patriotic tune, complete with the stars and stripes being unfurled on a large screen.
Nothing could have topped it.
Even so, Bentley's most impressive song was "I Hold On."
Co-written by Bentley and Brett James, the vocal was strong and Bentleys mention of certain inanimate objects opened a door to appreciation of family and faith, love and freedom.
Jukebox Mafia entertained on the opposite side of the arena while roadies traded Bentley's set for that of Miranda Lambert. No matter how much she may like the color pink, fans tend to think of Lambert as one of country music's more sassy and feisty entertainers.
True, she thanked the audience for spending its hard-earned money on a country music show, and earned smiles by humbly recalling days when she would sing into her hairbrush and dream.
Wearing dark boots, maroon pants and a black tank top sporting the phrase, "It's not my first rodeo," Lambert obviously enjoyed trips down memory lane.
"Me and Charlie Talking," she said, is a tune she sang "when I was a little girl."
Songs just kept improving until she shared her wonderful "The House That Built Me," which finds her looking for strength in her past.
Meanwhile, she could not refrain from letting fans know that she is aware of ongoing gossip about her marriage to fellow country recording artist Blake Shelton.
And yes, she also was aware that members of a certain church (Westboro Baptist), regarded by many as a hate group, had been "protesting against me."
Lambert may even have shocked, or confused, some by saying, "I don't give a (blank) what they have to say."
Strong words for any country concert.
Then again, perhaps no one was shocked.
After all, Lambert also introduced "Gunpowder and Lead" by saying that she wrote the song to remind everyone that men are not supposed to hit women -- and was greeted with cheers..
Like Bentley, Lambert ended her show on an energetic high note.
However, Thursday's concert would send everyone home smiling because of Lambert and Bentley's combined encore.
They first sang "Texas Tornado" as a duet and then, after inviting their own respective bands and any other lingering musicians to return to the stage, all inspired more interaction with a lovely resurrection of Roger Miller's 1964 pop classic "King of the Road."
Indeed, Thursday's closing minutes turned out to be as pleasant as they were unpredictable.
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