Miranda Lambert slowly walked onto the stage of the Save Mart Center as her band played, lacking much of the staging or choreography of other artists who have come to Fresno.
It was a low-key entrance and set the tone for her set during her “Livin’ Like Hippies” tour.
Friday night started off with the two opening acts: Lucie Silvas, a British singer-songwriter, and Jon Pardi, a country singer who seemed to be well-loved by the audience.
While the two opening acts can be labeled “country,” their approaches were definitely different.
Silvas had similarly stripped back staging like Lambert. Her music was reminiscent of Adele, if Adele went country.
Pardi surprisingly had the most staging of the three artists, with elaborate lighting that looked like the stars on the American Flag set up behind the singer. It was patriotic.
When the two were compared, it made sense why Pardi was chosen as the main opening act for the entire tour. He has recently had a string of top-five hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and was well-known by the Fresno audience. Silvas was met with a lukewarm response, although she had the better songs out of the two opening acts.
At about 9 p.m., Lambert came on stage, performing a cover of John Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes Round.” The setlist included a mixture of her bigger hits with songs from her critically-acclaimed latest album, “The Weight of These Wings.”
Behind Lambert was a set of five screens, displaying graphics that went along with each song. Many artists use a setup like this, seen in the stages of artists like Selena Gomez and Janet Jackson when the two came to Fresno as well.
In this case, it often detracted from the performances. The graphics looked poorly made. The screens worked best when they were used to show different angles of Lambert performing on stage.
A highlight was her performance of “Mama’s Broken Heart,” one of her biggest hits written by country singer Kacey Musgraves. The screens projected comic book style graphics in red, which mirrored the high-octane energy of the song.
It was one of the few moments when Lambert looked totally in the zone.
Another great moment was when Silvas was brought back out to perform a duet of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” The two singers rehearsed the duet that day according to Lambert, and harmonized beautifully throughout the stripped-back performance.
While Lambert may be a country star and has the hits and acclaim to prove it, the concert seemed to be lacking something.
Maybe it was the fact that it ended so quick. The night ended a little past 10 p.m. It felt like the night was just beginning. I may have been the only one who felt slightly disappointed. The crowd was roaring the entire night.
As Lambert began to perform “Pink Sunglasses” from her latest album, an audience member in front of me screamed and then yelled in her friend’s face, “This is my jam!”
It’s good to know that other people enjoyed it.