If you look around Knoxville's Thompson-Boling Arena, and you will no doubt be impressed with the eight NCAA Women's Basketball championship banners won by legendary head coach Pat Summitt. Friday night (Jan. 23) saw a visitor to the land of the Lady Vols who also knows a little bit about excellence at her position – Miranda Lambert.
The artist with more CMA Female Vocalist of the Year trophies than any other brought her "Certified Platinum" tour to East Tennessee Friday night, and if her performance was any indication, she might need to work on a few more acceptance speeches for the coming year. Kicking off her show with "Fastest Girl in Town," Lambert showcased her stage moxie from the beginning – dazzling with a set that included each of the hits that have kept her name high atop the charts for the past decade.
Fans sang along with the songstress on hit records such as "Kerosene" and "Famous in a Small Town," and Lambert delivered plenty of personality and sass on both cuts. In addition to her previous hits, Lambert also showcased many of the songs off the Platinum disc. Getting the biggest response of these was the current single "Little Red Wagon," which was notable for its strong sensuality and sexual spark. As the old saying goes, if you got it, flaunt it – and Lambert did just that during the performance of the song. Other highlights from the current album included "Smokin' and Drinkin," as well as the energetic "Priscilla," which truly deserves to be a single at some point along the way in 2015.
It wasn't all high-octane during the evening, however, as Lambert gave an emotional rendering of "Over You," the CMA-Award winning song she wrote with husband Blake Shelton, as well as her other single to earn the award – "The House That Built Me." Originally released five years ago, the Tom Douglas / Allen Shamblin - written track remains Lambert's finest musical hour on record – or on stage.
One of the biggest surprises of the night was her upbeat rendition of the 60's classic "In The Midnight Hour." It was a performance she might not have tried a few years ago, but she delivered a grand slam out of the ball park on the Wilson Pickett standard. As the concert neared to a close, the singer reminded fans of classic hits like "White Liar," and closed out with the fiery "Gunpowder and Lead," which brought the fans to their feet. Of course, she wasn't done – returning to the stage with opening act RaeLynn and back-up singer (and 2000's hitmaker) Carolyn Dawn Johnson on the Dixie Chicks classic "Cowboy Take Me Away," before sending the fans back out into the Knox County air with ZZ Top's "Tush." Lambert has developed her brand into the Gold standard as far as female vocalists go, and there's no reason to think she's going to stop anytime soon. In fact, a sixth Female Vocalist trophy this fall seems likely – as well as maybe the top prize of Entertainer of the Year. We wouldn't bet against her!
As noted, RaeLynn opened the show, and seemed to be a young artist living in the moment. She used her youthful energy to charm the audience with material from her just-released Me EP such as "Kissin' Frogs," "Better Do It," and her recent top-10 smash "God Made Girls." In between The Voice alum and Lambert was Justin Moore. It's hard to believe sometimes, but Moore has maintained a consistent chart presence for the past six years, and that fact was very much evident in his well-received set. Fans literally started screaming for the Arkansas native from the beginning notes of "Till' My Last Day," and continued all the way through his hit-filled set, which ended with "Small Town USA," which was his first number one in 2009. It could very well be getting close to time to start including Moore in the list of CMA and ACM nominees, as he has continued to deliver the goods – and the fans continue to love him for it.