Miranda Lambert was eight songs deep into a Wednesday night performance at the Coors Light Birds Nest in Scottsdale when she said she had two things to share.
“I’m sick as (expletive),” she told the crowd, with a smile. “But I’m the first girl ever to play the Birds Nest in 40 years.”
She was treating the illness with whiskey and honey, she said, before asking a favor.
“I want you to sing extra loud to drown me out.”
There was plenty of extra-loud singing going on, but there was no real need to drown her out.
Yes, you could hear that she was sick, but that was more in her between-song banter than her singing, although she did trim a handful of songs toward the end of her set.
It was after a raucous rendition of “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” that she told the crowd, “It’s leaving me,” referring, it seemed, to her voice.
‘I can’t walk out of here and not finish’
“I can’t walk out of here and not finish my show as the very first girl to stand on this stage, by God — we’re gonna do it tonight.”
After vowing to finish the show, the singer led her bandmates in a fiery blast of “Gunpowder & Lead” and an audience-assisted “Mama’s Broken Heart” before bringing Cody Johnson back on stage to join her on the Travis Tritt song, “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.”
Johnson is her main supporting act on the “Wildcard” tour, which launched in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Jan. 16 in support of Lambert’s seventh album to top the country charts. She shared four songs from the album in her Birds Nest performance, having set the tone with “White Trash,” the same song that opens the album.
When we spoke to Lambert the morning after she opened the tour, she said the new album was composed in part to work well in a live show.
She felt she needed to “lighten up a bit” coming off of “The Weight of These Wings,” an acclaimed double album inspired in part by her divorce from fellow country star Blake Shelton.
‘Wildcard’ songs were another ace up Lambert’s sleeve
Lambert only played one song from “The Weight of These Wings” during Wednesday’s set, sending “We Should Be Friends” out to all the ladies.
The songs she played from “Wildcard” felt like they were written with the stage in mind, from the opening track, where she belts “I can’t keep my white trash off the lawn” to “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” a playful ode to our ability to wash out “every little stain, every little heartbreak, no matter how messy it got.”
They fit right in with her longtime staples “Kerosene,” “Famous in a Small Town,” “Gunpowder & Lead” and “White Liar.”
It’s been 15 years since Lambert set the country charts on fire with “Kerosene,” her platinum breakthrough.
And with “Wildcard,” she remains one of the more inspired (and acclaimed) recording artists mainstream country has produced this century, whether sharing a ballad as wistful as her current single, “Bluebird,” or leading her band through the reckless garage-rock revival of “Little Red Wagon.”
She even slipped some classic rock into her set, covering ZZ Top and Fleetwood Mac, whose “Say You Love Me” fit right into Lambert’s vibe and found her trading verses with her backup singer, Gwen Sebastian. She also slipped a bit of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” into “Baggage Claim,” with the man who kept her whiskey-and-honey cup full stepping into the spotlight on vocals.
You can hear that love of classic rock informing Lambert’s music, whether in obvious ways, as on “Little Red Wagon,” or in the overall aesthetic of a touring band that at times comes across as modern country’s version of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers.
Cody Johnson in a honky-tonk mood
And then there was Cody Johnson, a honky-tonk man in a Stetson who told the crowd, “My name is Cody Johnson and I stand for real country music.”
Johnson put his music where his mouth was, leading his “six guys on stage who actually give a damn” about country music through such highlights as “Y’all People,” “Honky-Tonk,” “Me and My Kind” and his first million-selling single, “On My Way to You.”
He also covered Charlie Daniels’ “Long Haired Country Boy” and gave a long, impassioned speech about setting politics aside to come together and support the troops in these divided times.
Miranda Lambert’s Birds Nest setlist
WATCH Miranda Lambert ~ For The Birds (Lyrics) VIDEO BELOW:
“Mess With My Head”
“Famous in a Small Town”
“It All Comes Out in the Wash”
“Heart Like Mine”
“We Should Be Friends”
“That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round”
“Say You Love Me”
“Baggage Claim”/”Feelin’ Alright”
“Little Red Wagon”
“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
“Don’t Rock the Jukebox”
“Gunpowder & Lead”
“Mama’s Broken Heart”
“It’s a Great Day to Be Alive”
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Bless Your Heart!