FARGO — It was ladies' night at the Fargodome on Thursday, Oct. 17, and while there were no drink specials, fans were knocking back stiff shots of girl power.
Country queen Miranda Lambert turned the stadium into a honkytonk with her "Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars" tour. All of the acts on the tour are female-led and all about empowering other women, getting over bad men or just having a drink or two -- or more -- with friends.
In past area shows, Lambert has kicked off shows with a bang, and she didn't disappoint on Thursday, launching into "Locomotive" off her soon-to-be-released album, "Wildcard." She kept her foot on the pedal with the fiery "Kerosene," previously a show opener.
Judging from the songs she played from the new album, it'll be a diverse mix. Where "Locomotive" is a racing anthem, "Mess With My Head" is among her most poppy songs. "It All Comes Out in the Wash" is made for contemporary country radio and from the reaction, it's already a hit with fans. The dark "Bluebird" could end up in a club remix with its deep groove. It's not made for country radio, but it's worth airplay somewhere.
Longtime fans were rewarded when Lambert went back into her catalog and pulled out the pink guitar for "Famous in a Small Town."
Speaking of famous in a small town, Hebron, N.D.'s own Gwen Sebastian shined as a backing singer, offering harmonies and standout performances on tunes like "Vice."
"I hope this is a Thirsty Thursday here, because we're going to do a drinkin' song, y'all," Lambert said, holding up a pink drinking cup, introducing "Heart Like Mine." She got the crowd to sing along to "Over You."
The breakup song opened the door for Lambert's side project, Pistol Annies, to take the stage for the sassiest part of the set. Singers Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley are great enablers as they whipped through "Pills" and shimmied through "Hush, Hush."
"These girls were there to sing me down the aisle when I got married the first time and there for me when I got divorced and 'Got My Name Changed Back,'" Lambert said, introducing the single woman anthem, complete with Lambert playing washboard.
Pistol Annies makes some of the truest traditional country and proved it with a intoxicating cover of Elvis Presley's "Love Me," followed by their signature slow burn, “Hell on Heels.”
After the Annies left, she carried on solo with the kiss-offs "Gunpowder & Lead" and "Mama's Broken Heart" before breaking hearts with "The House that Built Me."
Lambert introduced Sebastian as one of her best friends and thanked her for introducing her to tater-tot hotdish before turning the stage over to her to belt out Suzy Bogguss' "Someday Soon."
"I want to thank you for supporting women in country music tonight," Lambert said.
Fans should thank her as she put Elle King and Ashley McBryde on the bill. King in particular wowed with her powerhouse voice on the hits "Ex's & Oh's" and her empowerment speech in the middle of "Little Bit of Lovin.'" When it came time for the show's finale, which brought all of the women front and center for a cover of Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," King blew everyone off the stage.
It was a powerful ending and unfortunately overshadowed the second-to-last song, a beautiful cover of Little Feat's "Willin,'" itself a beautiful tribute to the hardships of life on the road.
Since releasing her debut album in 2005, Lambert has been one of the biggest names in country music, male or female, adored by both critics and fans. So it's a real head-scratcher why she couldn't sell out the half-Dome configuration.
Too bad for those who missed the show, because it was one of the best ones in a long time.