July 17, 2022
In their first headlining tour in over five years, The Chicks drew a devoted crowd of supporters to Coastal Credit Union Music Park in Raleigh. The weather was hot and humid, but that didn’t stop the band’s or the crowd’s enthusiasm. This tour, simply named The Chicks Tour, highlighted their 2020 album Gaslighter, the band’s first studio album in over a decade. Arguably more important, this was the band’s first official tour since dropping “Dixie” from their name in 2020 to distance themselves from the Confederacy. The Chicks’ return to the limelight felt seamless; songs from the group’s latest album drew just as much of a response as their most popular albums Fly and Wide Open Spaces from the late ‘90s.
Americana veteran Patty Griffin opened the show, playing a mostly acoustic set. Griffin covered songs from several stages of her career, the earliest being “Flaming Red,” from her 1998 album of the same name. Patty Griffin finished her tranquil 45-minute set to soft cheers from a half-full amphitheater.
As the crowd eagerly awaited The Chicks, an intentional mixtape played over the house speakers. Women-led bands like Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Heart played throughout the grounds. “Bad Reputation” faded and the show kicked off with all three members of the band standing together at the back of the stage. The sheer curtain with Gaslighter’s floral gas mask tour logo fell and the group jumped right into the rip-roaring “Sin Wagon” from Fly. Each member of The Chicks performed a solo before the song’s conclusion, with Emily Strayer on banjo, Martie Maguire on fiddle and frontwoman Natalie Maines on guitar. They maintained the excitement by following with “Gaslighter” and “Texas Man,” both from their most recent album.
Following “Sleep At Night,” also from Gaslighter, a young fan named Violet stepped out from the wings of the stage to join the band. Maines explained that the next song the band played would be decided by Violet’s roll of the dice, with six songs listed on the screens: “Travelin’ Soldier,” “There’s Your Trouble,” “Ready to Run,” “Give It Up or Let Me Go,” “Mississippi,” and “Truth No. 2.” It landed on six for “Truth No. 2” and there was a collective audible sigh from the crowd. Maines could sense the disappointment, but laughed it off before saying, “Whatever it landed on, we’ll still play ‘Travelin’ Soldier,” which drew a rowdy applause.
An unignorable element to the show was The Chicks’ use of graphics on the big screen. During “Tights On My Boat,” multiple characters were depicted on boats floating across choppy waters. The most notable passengers were the five Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. Their boat ended up catching fire and sinking into the ocean as an eruption of cheers ensued.
About halfway through their set, Griffin joined the trio on stage to perform her song “Don’t Let Me Die In Florida.” Following Griffin’s interlude, The Chicks went into “March March,” another off their latest album. The lyrics like “Underpaid teacher policin’ the hallways” and “Tell the ol’ boys in the white bread lobby what they can and can’t do with their bodies,” were paired with footage from several different protests, including recent marches for abortion rights and earlier rallies from the racial unrest in America. For the last half of the song, the names of those who were killed in racially motivated attacks were listed, one by one, on the screen behind the band. The song faded and the last name stayed for a few extra moments– Emmett Till.
Instead of leaving the stage before an encore, Maines took a few minutes to address the crowd, thanking them for their support. It was 10:45 p.m. at this point, so fans knew the show was coming to an end, and the last three songs did not disappoint. Maines started with a simple strum of her guitar and “Not Ready To Make Nice” commenced. She followed up by keeping her promise with the next song, squeezing in “Travelin’ Soldier,” which was not originally included in the night’s setlist.
The final tune was none other than “Goodbye Earl.” The cheerful song, written by Dennis Linde in the late ‘90s, tells the story of characters Mary Anne and Wanda killing Wanda’s abusive husband. Despite the dark subject matter, “Goodbye Earl” continues to be The Chicks’ loudest, and easiest song for the crowd to follow along to. Not a single beat, not a single word was missed by the audience. Maines even stopped singing for a line just to hear everyone drawl “gooooodbye Earl!”
Although they played through all but two songs of Gaslighter, the Chicks didn’t neglect their fans the joy of playing their older hits. For iconic ballads like “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Wide Open Spaces” the fans’ voices seemed to drown out Maines’. Despite their years-long hiatus from the limelight, the devotion and excitement shared by the audience solidified The Chicks’ significance in country music and pop culture.
“Julianna Calm Down”
“The Long Way Around”
“My Best Friend’s Weddings”
“Sleep at Night”
“Wide Open Spaces”
“Tights on My Boat”
“Lubbock or Leave It”
“Cowboy Take Me Away”
“Long Time Gone”
“Don’t Let Me Die in Florida” (with Patty Griffin)
“White Trash Wedding”
“Everybody Loves You”
“Set Me Free”
“Not Ready to Make Nice”