"All my in-laws are in the house tonight, so forgive me if I start crying," the Tishomingo resident said as her band began playing her heartbreaking hit "Over You."
She didn't even make it into the first verse of the ode she wrote with her husband, Blake Shelton, about the death of his brother before she was overcome with emotion. Fortunately, her faithful fans knew every word and were more than willing to belt them out, so she simply held out the microphone and let them sing as she wiped away tears. Her devotees shouted out encouragement as she took a deep breath and took over on the second stanza.
“Thanks for the help, y’all. Hells bells, I’m already crying. ... Crying equals drinking and drinking makes sure we’re gonna have a good time tonight,” she quipped, sipping from a black insulated cup and then launching into her heartfelt chart-topper “Heart Like Mine.”
Alternately wielding an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar and a microphone — all in pretty shades of pink — the singer-songwriter boldly mixed her new hits like “Mama’s Broken Heart” and “Baggage Claim” with her older favorites like “Kerosene” and “New Strings” and stirred in a couple of fun covers for good measure. After giving a cowbell a few good introductory whacks with a drumstick, she growled through a sexed-up rendition of Mountain’s rock classic “Mississippi Queen,” and she later showcased her band as she drawled the Beatles’ galloping number “Get Back.”
“I brought some of the girls from my store in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, with me tonight,” she said, referring to her clothing and gift shop The Pink Pistol. “Somehow, we’ve managed to make that little town famous.”
She dedicated “Famous in a Small Town,” which clearly resonated with many of her Sooner State devotees, to her adopted hometown. Video footage of the Oklahoma flag, homegrown superstars like Vince Gill and Johnny Bench, the Oklahoma City Thunder logo and signs from various local bars drew appreciative yells, but the University of Oklahoma logo provoked a mix of cheers and boos.
“Let me tell you something: I’m from Texas, so y’all just calm down,” she admonished the “house divided.”
After her band played a bit of the cowboy standard “Red River Valley” as a lead-in, the fans were united in their adoration of Lambert’s Grammy-winning ode “The House That Built Me,” which she crooned fervently.
“I know you have a million ways to spend your hard-earned money, and we appreciate you spending it on country music tonight. I’m just an everyday average country girl doing what I do best and that’s sing to people. But I’ve got my insecurities and I’ve had my share of people tell me I’m not good enough or pretty enough or skinny enough. ... I want everybody here to believe in yourselves,” she said, encouraging the throng to really listen to her story-song “All Kind of Kinds,” with its theme about accepting people’s differences.”
She shared more life lessons — “My daddy taught me two things: How to use a shotgun gun and that it’s never OK for a man to hit a woman” — before scorching through her fiery closer “Gunpowder & Lead.”
But she and her band didn’t keep the screaming crowd waiting long for an encore, keeping it sassy with her first career No. 1 hit, “White Liar.”
“I love my daddy and my brother and I’m happily married,” she said, although Shelton unfortunately didn’t put in an appearance. “But it’s our job to keep you guys in line,” she added, evoking shouts of agreement from the ladies in the audience as she launched into her impressively soulful “best white-girl version” of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.”
And she closed the concert by inviting the two men who opened it for her — Brice and Bentley — and various members of their bands — one of whom surreally donned the mask of a Cox Communications "Digeez" mascot — for the spirited bluegrass sing-along “Bad Angel,” an entertaining romp Lambert and Jamey Johnson recorded with Bentley for his 2010 album “Up on the Ridge.”
Lambert and Bentley will bring their highly recommended “Locked & Reloaded Tour” back to Oklahoma for an April 13 show at Tulsa’s BOK Center. Canadian country singer Corb Lund will take over the opener slot for Brice, who is getting married next month. For more information, go to www.bokcenter.com.