A Fan Celebrates 20 Years of Reba
By: Guest Blogger, Joey Webster
Published: November 14, 2011
Let me start this review by jumping back a few years: picture this, November 11, 1995 - Florence, South Carolina. An 11-year-old boy is on his way to see his first Reba McEntire concert with his parents at the Florence Civic Center, having been a fan since 1991. Now, let's jump to November 12, 2011, almost 16 years to the day, and 20 years after becoming a fan of Reba, this same boy - now 27, gets in the car for the 5-hour trip to Atlanta, GA to see what will be his 15th Reba concert.
I have been to Atlanta three times before to see Reba, in 2004 and 2007 at Chastain Park Ampitheatre, and in 2005 at Philips Arena with Brad Paisley. This was my first experience attending a show at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, and it instantly became a favorite.
I will get to the show review in a moment, but I must give major props and applause to this arena. I loved the location, quietly tucked away back in the woods, far enough away from the busy Atlanta interstates. We arrived early and took advantage of the chance to walk around the arena and look it over. It was a beautiful place and we hadn't even entered the building yet.
The doors opened between 6:15 and 6:30, which is when the website said it would. We went in and headed to our seats. The inside of the arena was just as nice as the outside. I was lucky enough to have floor seating about twelve rows back. I have been on the floor and shows before, and the first thing I noticed was that these chairs had cushions on them. I've been other places where it was just metal chairs, so the nice cushions were a great plus.
The show started on time right at 7:30 with Eden's Edge taking the stage. I was not familiar with this group, however I was very impressed with them and I think in the coming years, country music will be glad to have them on their side. Eden's Edge seemed to transform into Steel Magnolia right before our eyes. Steel Magnolia is a country duo headed by Meghan Linsey. She was wonderful and full of energy. About three songs in, she performed a great semi-rock version of Patsy Clines classing "Walking After Midnight." She then introduced special guest, James Otto, to the stage. The two had a great time performing "In Color," a song James co-wrote with Jamey Johnson. The two final songs were "Just got Started Loving You," and "Keep On Lovin' You."
With a quick change of set, next up was The Band Perry. Still high off their win as Best New Artist at the CMA's earlier in the week, they were ready to rock - and they did. The family trio, consisting of brothers Reid and Neil, and sister Kimberly, played through many of the hit songs from their debut album, including: "Hip to My Heart," "You Lie," "All Your Life," and CMA Single and Song of the Year, "If I Die Young." I would gladly pay to see this group in concert again. They are here to stay.
Finally the stage was set for The Queen of Country: REBA. Like I said, this being my 15th concert, I knew Reba was going to put on a show, not the big theatrical show like she did back in the 90s with 14 costume changes, fireworks, etc., but still I knew I was in for yet another treat.
Opening the show with "All The Woman I Am," the arena burst into cheers, screams and applause as the Oklahoma native appeared behind a see-through curtain in black pants, boots and a sleeveless blue glitter top :It's so good to be back in Atlanta again," she said as she plowed through the hits: "Strange," "The Fear of Being Alone," her current single, "Somebody's Chelsea," and "Is There Life Out There." Being in Georgia, the place went wild when the intro for "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" began. Reba has great command of the stage and it's hard to take your eyes off of her. She told stores and laughed as she sang hit after hit. With 25 number one songs, 30+ albums, and over 35 years in the business - how do you pick what hits to play in a show? Reba did not disappoint us long time fans throwing in several medley's of her 80s and 90s hits: "Somebody," "Till You Love Me," "You Lie," "And Still," and a personal favorite, 1986's Grammy winning "Whoever's In New England." A second medley consisted of many of her up-tempo number one hits including: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," "Walk On," "I'd Rather Ride Around With You," and her first number one record from 1982, "Can't Even Get The Blues." Earlier this year, Reba's father suffered a stroke and was in a coma for several weeks. Luckily, he is doing much better. "Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers about Daddy," Reba said as she performed "The Greatest Man I Never Knew" while pictures of her family played on the big screen behind her.
Kimberly Perry returned to the stage and joined Reba for her hit duet, "Does He Love You." "Consider Me Gone," "Because of You," and "Take it Back/Why Haven't I Heard from You" medley and "I'm a Survivor" rounded out the end of the show. Roaring into her latest number one hit, "Turn on the Radio," the show ended to thunderous applause. "Thank you so much, I love ya," Reba said as she left the sage. However, for us long time fan who have been around for years, we know - the show is NEVER over until "Fancy" is sung.
The video screen lit up with the beginning dialogue of the 1991 video of the song. Reba returned in a leathery type knee length red dress and red heels. The sound in the arena was deafening. I'm sure it's hard to keep the song fresh and new having performing it at every concert since its release in 1991. However, when she sings the lyrics "you know I might have been born just plain white trash, but fancy was my name," not only do you believe her, but you kind of want to be her.
The song ended and the curtain fell on my 15th concert. At 56, Reba still sounds amazing and has more energy onstage than most of the younger generation we see today. This year, Reba was inducted into the highest honor in country music - The Country Music Hall of Fame. I see no sign of Reba slowing down anytime soon. As I walked out of the arena, two employees at different areas said "Thanks for coming out - drive safe," and "thank you for coming." I've never had that happen before. I would gladly trek back to the Gwinnett Center for another show, being one of the best arenas I have EVER been to. Maybe one day I'll return for my 20th, or even 30th, Reba concert.