Songwise, there were heartaches by the number at the Patriot Center Saturday night. Hurtin', leavin', cheatin' songs. Reba McEntire sang them with an ache in her voice, with genuine emotion. Lee Greenwood sang them at the top of his lungs, with mere gusto.
McEntire and her fine seven-piece ensemble offered a good deal more than just sad songs, however; Western swing tunes and vibrant country kickers laced with fiddle and pedal steel guitar punctuated the show. But nothing rivaled McEntire's bluesy ballads. Like Tammy Wynette, she has a powerfully expressive voice with a slight catch to her phrasing that gave songs like "The Last One to Know" a special poignancy. The concert's only miscue was a silly '50s-era production number that simply didn't warrant the time it consumed.
Greenwood's opening set showcased his rousing baritone voice, but several of his songs were undercut by his tendency to bring them to a predictably melodramatic finish. After joking about the commercial jingles he's recorded over the years, he performed a couple of them with the same empty bravado that later powered some of his best-known country hits. He was far more entertaining as a saxophonist, honking out "Yakety Sax" or engaging his banjo player in a playful duel.