Members of the Lindale High School choir, which Lambert helped launch as a student, joined her on the big stage Saturday night.Miranda Lambert has been riding in country’s top tier for more than a decade. But she still hasn’t totally forgotten the bitter taste of rejection she felt as a student at Lindale High School.
“I didn’t make cheerleader, and I couldn’t play sports for [expletive],” she told a capacity crowd Saturday night at American Airlines Center.
What she could do was sing, so she collected signatures and helped launch the Lindale High student choir. Some 20 years later, the 36-year-old Lambert brought 22 members of the current Lindale choir onstage to help her sing “Tin Man,” her 2016 ballad inspired by her divorce from singer Blake Shelton.
The move was classic Lambert, picking a silver lining out of an emotional dumpster fire.
And while none of the songs from her latest album, Wildcard, carried quite the gut punch of “Tin Man,” her droll new tunes held their own next to her barrage of hits. She kicked off the show with “White Trash” — a funny rocker about a newly rich woman who sticks to her down-and-out ways — and kept the trailer-park mirth going with another new tune, “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” a slight but infectious romp about not giving a flying fig.
Yet she didn’t totally shy away from sad country songs drenched in gorgeous pedal steel guitar. One of the show’s high points arrived in “Tequila Does,” a Wildcard slice of honky-tonk about a lonely soul who chooses hard liquor over weak men.
Lambert explored similar lyrical turf with Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink,” the show-closer featuring backing vocals by Randy Rogers and Parker McCollum, fellow Texans who opened the concert. Earlier, she focused on pop-rock in Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me” and dabbled in soul during an inspired mash-up of her own song “Baggage Claim” as well as the Traffic hit “Feelin’ Alright?” later popularized by Joe Cocker.
But the night’s best remake was a total curveball. Transforming John Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round” into white-hot punk rock, Lambert and her eight-piece band came off like Jason & the Scorchers.
It was that type of show, where upbeat tunes outnumbered ballads four-to-one as Lambert constantly flipped her ponytail and skipped around in a fringe-y outfit inspired by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, but with a modern twist: LED lights on her blouse flashed whenever the spotlights darkened.
The show was a homecoming for the singer-songwriter, who grew up in Van Alstyne, north of McKinney, before moving to Lindale, near Tyler. She dedicated the concert to “the people from the east side of Texas,” gave a shout out to Tyler-born Super Bowl star Patrick Mahomes and proudly declared herself “just a girl from Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas.”
She delved into rural life in several tunes, most notably “Famous in a Small Town.” But if she still holds a grudge about not making the cheerleading squad back in Lindale, she certainly didn’t show it Saturday night.
“I’m so happy to be home I can hardly stand it,” she said, beaming.
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Bless Your Heart!