Miranda Lambert rolled onto the stage on a “Locomotive,” set Pinnacle Bank Arena on fire with “Kerosene,” then spent another hour-and-a-half proving why she’s been recognized as country’s top female artist for the last decade.
Wearing a sequined, fringed western shirt, shorts and red boots, Lambert roamed the stage, delivering hit after hit, backed by her terrific eight-piece band.
Powered by three guitars, Lambert works in the sweet spot between rock ‘n’ roll and country on the up-tempo numbers, brings out the steel on the mid-tempo sliders and gets pure country on the ballads — an irresistible mix done well live.
About 40 minutes in, Lambert brought out Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley — it was Pistol Annies time.
The trio tore through a six-song mini-set of their honky tonk rock ‘n’ roll — swaggering through “Takin’ Pills,” doing a harmony-drenched cover of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me” accompanied only by Monroe's acoustic guitar, and ended with their signature “Hell on Heels” that had the female-dominated crowd of 7,000 screaming along.
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After the Annies, Lambert took the show by the throat with a blistering “Gunpowder & Lead,” a sassy, shaking run through “Mama’s Broken Heart” and a couple songs later, a gorgeous, touching “The House That Built Me,” one of the best country songs of the last decade.
Before she finished, Lambert twanged and growled her way through “Tequila Does,” went ringingly anthemic on “Automatic,” and wrapped up the main set with a killer “Little Red Wagon.”
It’s not every day you hear a top-five pop song in the middle of a country show. But midway through her hour-long opening set, Maren Morris pulled out “The Middle,” her multi-Grammy-nominated collaboration with Zedd and nailed it with verve.
“The Middle” didn’t sound out of place with “RSVP” and the rocker “The Bones.” But it was on the ballads such as “To Hell and Back” and “Once” that Morris showed her country chops.
An excellent emotive singer with just a touch of Texas twang and an engaging performer — she had the arena singing and swaying along to the gospel-tinged “My Church” — Morris is a hit or two from becoming an arena headliner — which Friday’s set showed she’ll handle just fine.