Live In Concert (CD/DVD)

Martina McBride

RCA, 2008

http://www.martinamcbride.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/06/2008

I find that sometimes Martina McBride is just too perfect. This is especially true on this concert release. She does not hit any off-key notes, even on the most difficult songs. Her songs are presented exactly as they are recorded in the studio. She is a stunning visual presence with perfectly chosen clothes and every hair in place. I doubt if she even sweats.

Live In Concert was originally presented as a PBS Great Performance. The show provides a good retrospective of her career, as it features songs from ten of her albums.

Opener “Anyway” is a good song to begin the concert. It is a slow building ballad that shows off the clarity and purity of McBride’s voice. The second song, the up-tempo “When Women Get The Blues,” is a counterpoint to the first, and shows that she is at home no matter what the type of song. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

McBride presents most of her well known hits: “Wild Angels,” “My Baby Loves Me,” “This One’s For The Girls” and “Independence Day” are all performed well and draw huge audience reactions. The studio version of “A Broken Wing,” from 1997’s Evolution, contained one of the great modern female country vocals, but McBride proves here that it was not studio wizardry that produced those sounds, but rather, her vocal power.

I find it interesting that the less successful efforts tend to be the classic country songs. “Rose Garden,” “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough” are difficult for McBride to translate well. Sometimes a country song needs to be a little imperfect, and that is especially true for these songs.

On this disc, McBride presents an extremely interesting encore. She selects two classic rock songs, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” and Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and performs them in a rock style. Though I would have liked to see her take these out for a country ride, she does not stray from the originals. Still, these choices do show that her style is really closer to rock or power pop than it is to classic country.

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was welcome as a number as well because several years ago, Martina McBride and Pat Benetar shared a stage and rotated singing each other’s songs. That concert has been heavily bootlegged, so it was nice to actually hear one of the songs.

The accompanying CD is basically a come-on to buy the package. It only contains eight songs and six are repeats from the concert. Only “From The Ashes” and “Whatever You Say” are different, and while competent and pleasant, they are not enough to carry this album.

Live In Concert is an accurate and ultimately a pleasant live romp through McBride’s career. It may be a tad long at twenty songs, but it nevertheless remains entertaining. If she just weren’t so darn perfect.  

Rating: B+

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