Near the end of her concert last night at Fairfax High School, Tammy Wynette grabbed hold of her pink western-style dress and climbed down from the stage to walk with the crowd. "I've been accused of always singing for the women," she said, "but this one's for the men." Cue: "Stand by Your Man."
It was small gesture, one of several intimate moments that kept Wynette's performance from becoming the slick and impersonal act so many celebrated country musicians have adopted since Las Vegas first beckoned.
Not that some of the glitter hasn't rubbed off. Occasionally her songs were compressed into a bland medley, the jokes often came as spontaneously as a one-liner on "Hee Haw," and much of Wynette's time on stage was devoted to the razzle-dazzle fiddle and harmonica antics of her seven-piece band.
Still, there were those moments when Wynette, seated on a stool center stage, genuinely expressed the heartache and vulnerability implicit in so many of her recordings. Her poignant versions of "Till I Can Make It on My Own" and "Crying in the Rain" alone made the uncommonly long concert worthwhile--even though spending four uncomfortable hours in a gymnasium listening to Wynette and pleasant but hardly exciting sets by Razzy Bailey and the North Star Band was clearly too much for some fans to endure.