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August 13, 2007

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in Anaheim, CA. August 11, 2007

The last time many of us saw Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, it was on YouTube. Whether it was Faith Hill reprimanding a fan, "Somebody needs to teach you some class, my friend! You don't go grabbin' somebody else's…somebody's husband's balls, you understand me? That's very disrespectful!" or Tim McGraw pointing to a fan saying, "Give me my ring back! No, give me my ring back!" – The Soul2Soul 2007 tour has had some unusual moments. I never would have expected Tim and Faith to fill the Internet blogosphere when I bought two nosebleed seats (not just the 300 level, the 400 level, which puts you in the vicinity of the Tower of Babel) at $100 a ticket (face value, seriously?) months ago for the tour's finale on Saturday night at the Honda Center. Safely tucked away in the balcony, I was confident that the few hundred feet of space between me and the stars would be enough to overpower my genitalia and jewelry related envy. I was wrong (kidding).


All the press and hoopla aside, the finale to a tour featuring two of country music's biggest stars and possibly the most successful couple in music (Don't go there, J. Lo and Marc Anthony) was the longest concert I've ever attended, as the concert ended well after midnight, but it was also a tribute to country music superstardom for both Hill and McGraw. 


Opening up the show was Tim McGraw-produced duo Halfway to Hazard. With their acoustic sound and spirited vocals, Halfway to Hazard had a bit more of a rock edge to them than I expected from a group produced by one of the most quintessential voices in country music. At times, I felt like their vocals and style resembled that of a church worship band (what up, Bel Air Presbyterian) rather than a more traditional country duo like Brooks and Dunn. Their performance of "Daisy" really stuck out as a good example of their sound – country-like songs with a contemporary rock twist, a big "you just tipped the bartender $5 extra per drink" twist. I couldn't help but think that even if they weren't opening up for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, if they left out their very twangy performance of "Welcome to Nashville" and switched a few lyrics here and there, I would have had no problems accepting them as an acoustic rock duo.

While fans appreciated their performance, the arena really went nuts (I may or may not have taken off my shirt, only to put it back on after no one else followed suit) when Hazard announced they would be shooting a music video for their Southern rock-styled song "Countrified" that night. In what I assume will be a live music video, a la "The One" by the Backstreet Boys (why do I know that? … OMG because I love them!!), if the camera ever pans up to heaven and you see a mohawked Asian sitting next to a beautiful blonde (my country music aficionado Jamie Moore) partying with a notebook in his lap, that's me! The song was a bit like a Lynyrd Skynyrd track, and vocally resembled Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" on steroids. Regardless, the chance to be famous with a blurry face in a music video got everyone and their feet clapping to the beat. It was a great way not only to close out the set, but ensure an instant standing ovation.


About 15 minutes later, the lights dimmed and a spotlight illuminated one corner of the stage as Faith Hill's unmistakable voice filled the arena with the opening lines to "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. With her hair teased out very big and "countrified" (I tried to do the same, but girl, it was just too many bobby pins to make it look right) Faith was wearing an all black outfit with some sequined pants that didn't really do justice to the fact that she is one of the hottest moms on the planet. Another spotlight shone down on the opposite end of the stage (this is easier to understand with the pictures) as Tim McGraw joined his wife on stage to create a beautiful duet when the couple came together center stage to harmonize, Tim's Grammy winning smooth vocals complementing Faith's Grammy winning huge pipes (vocal pipes, not that her arms didn't look great). For a duo with so many hits, it was unexpected to see them cover a song that wasn't necessarily a universal classic to open up the show, but a nice surprise in its execution.


Faith Hill kicked off the early part of the show. Her solo set list included:

- Wild One

- The Lucky One

- The Secret of Life

- Cry

- Sunshine & Summertime

- This Kiss

- Stronger

- Lost

- The Way You Love Me

- The Winner Takes It All (Originally by ABBA)

- Breathe

- Piece of My Heart

- Mississippi Girl

Vocally, Faith was as great as anyone would expect. Despite her apparent disdain for my secret crush Carrie Underwood (another hotly debated topic on the Interweb), there's no denying that she can hold her own vocally with the best in the industry. Throughout her performances, Faith walked all around the stage, shaking hands with fans, signing autographs, and engaging in conversations with fans she recognized, which must have been tiring considering the size of the stage. After all the controversy surrounding the tour, it was nice to see that Faith still genuinely enjoyed interacting with her fans in such a personal way. Maybe it was because it was the tour finale, but Tim and Faith alike both shook hands with fans time and time again, without fear of having rings stolen or scrotums grazed. Faith was incredibly gracious to her band and tour team, even having the backup singers join her on stage during numerous points to share center stage with her (most notably during "This Kiss"), a gesture that impressed many of us in the crowd.

Beyond the performances, something that made this show very cool was the stage layout. It's funny - now that I consider myself to be a pretty seasoned concert veteran, I've started noticing what makes shows unique, instead of just hopping around to the music or trying to score some free bud from high schoolers (kidding, bosses!). With each song, the floor, which was so clear that I swear it could have been an HD feed, would transform and move around (not just a stagnant crappy picture from MS Clip Art) to fit the mood of the song – turning into a beach, an ocean, flames, stained glass, pictures of Tim and Faith – very cool! As an eternal optimist, it was really cool to be in the cheap seats where I'd be able to see the full stage transform in this way.


"Cry" really stuck out as one of the best performances on the night. Faith's vocals literally gave me chills on the huge chorus, and each line was filled with such emotion that it managed to make me forget about the show's pricey tag and just be grateful that I was there. Immediately after the performance, I turned to my wingwoman Jamie and told her "That was one of the best performances I've seen all summer," and it was. Hill's song "Stronger" is one of my favorite songs of all time, recently remade famous by American Idol contestant and country music young buck Baylie Brown. In "Stronger," Hill laid down what have to be some of the best and biggest notes that have ever been successfully performed while seated. With Hill's band rocking out (yes, with their cocks out, figuratively), it was an absolute joy to witness this performance.

"Breathe" got everyone in the crowd very excited for what could be her most popular song. There were very few in attendance who could resist mouthing the words to the crossover track. During her cover of "Piece of My Heart," I learned that Faith Hill might be one of the few popular singers today that I might be able to out dance (if we busted out the cardboard and shell toes). Dancing on the stage that was illuminated with 70's patterns and hearts, Hill slid and shuffled around the stage in a dance that was part Lacey Schwimmer (the Schwimmer slide) and part MC Hammer (the shuffle). Let's just say… it was ok.

Hill brought four sisters from the audience on stage to do a pretty hot (ok not hot, as the girls were very young, in case NBC's Chris Hansen stumbles upon this blog) strut down the catwalk before the performances of "Mississippi Girl." As I proclaimed "But y'all, I'm still a Mississippi Girl!" at the top of my lungs, I realized that this one of those songs like "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" that just aren't meant for guys.


Next, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill emerged under a large mosquito net (I'm sure there's a cooler name, but that's what it looked like) center stage. McGraw and Hill were in their own net, while the band was covered in another (also easier to understand with pictures). As they performed, it was incredible to see two of a genre's biggest stars come together for two powerful ballads, switch leads, inject all their star power into the performances, and have it work perfectly. The duo performed:

- Angry All the Time

- Never Loved At All


It was now McGraw's turn to perform. His set list included:

- Space Cowboy [Made famous by Steve Miller]

- Last Dollar [AKA "Fly Away"]

- Something Like That

- When The Stars Go Blue

- Everywhere

- For a Little While

- She's My Kind of Rain

- Live Like You Were Dying

- Suspicions

- Real Good Man & The Ride

- The Cowboy In Me

- Between the River and Me

- Indian Outlaw

- If You're Reading This

Honestly, I went into this concert as a virtual Tim McGraw rookie, only to realize that I've heard so many of his hits before but never attributed them to him. The crowd really raised it up a notch when McGraw took the stage, a tribute to his 20 years in the music industry and endless catalog of hits. I don't know if any concert will be able to match the chorus of screaming women that follow every one of McGraw's moves. It was fun to watch everyone sing along with McGraw and see how comfortable the country music veteran/superstar was on stage. As he shook hands with the floor seats crowd and brought kids on stage to sing with him, the audience clapped along enthusiastically to songs like "Something Like That." While vocally, McGraw doesn't necessarily blow anyone away, he has a whole persona that truly seems to be the embodiment of good country music – smooth vocals, good masculine looks, some Southern twang, and a huge variety of music that stops it from getting repetitive.


From upbeat songs like "Everywhere," to groovy tracks like "Suspicions," to ballads like "The Cowboy In Me," I loved how McGraw didn't really have a formula for a hit song. While I am a relative newcomer to country music, many hit singles often seem pretty similar from certain groups. It was obvious why McGraw has maintained his status as one of the genre's biggest stars over the years. Throughout his performances, McGraw let his band members take center stage and have huge instrumental solos that were truly a joy to hear. With his fanbase fully on board, McGraw interacted well with the crowd, giving a huge venue a small concert feel. At one point, he had different sections of the arena playfully cheer on command, which definitely brought out the loudest cheers that I've heard all summer. McGraw is a superstar, but doesn't necessarily act like it, as he just seems like a laid back, regular guy who enjoys what he does.


Stealing the show was McGraw's performance of "If You're Reading This," a tribute to soldiers who have died in battle. The song takes the form of a letter that is to be sent to families in the event of a soldier's death. McGraw brought many in the audience to tears with his emotional performance of one of the most beautiful songs that you'll ever hear (really). As this was my first time hearing the song, it became an instant favorite for me. A guy who was just telling me about a "barbeque stain on his white T-shirt" a few songs back was now bringing a huge arena to tears with an unbelievable ballad. This is why he's Tim McGraw.


Faith rejoined Tim on stage and they performed:

- Shotgun Rider

- It's Your Love

- It's Only Love

- I Need You

For the obligatory encore, Tim and Faith shared a microphone center stage, accompanied only by the sound of a single guitar, for their performance of "I Need You." Faith's vocals were unbelievable, and when the arena camera zoomed in on McGraw as he looked over the microphone at his wife, there were some moments when it looked like even McGraw was in disbelief at how beautiful his wife and her voice was. Flashbulbs popped and digital camera cards filled up as women could not stop screaming wildly at the emotional duet. As I sat in total silence watching the performance, even as we were coming up on 12:30 AM, four hours and over 30 Tim and Faith songs after the concert began, I felt lucky to have seen some incredible performances all night long by two of country music's biggest stars.


With some of the most memorable and emotional performances that I have seen this summer, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's Soul2Soul 2007 tour was not only the longest concert I've ever been to, but one of the most engaging, even from the cheap seats. All the controversy and Internet conversations aside, it was a privilege to see two legitimate superstars take over the stage and interact with their enormous fan base at the end of what was inevitably a physically and emotionally taxing tour. The two performers were incredibly gracious to their band, fans, and everyone involved with the tour. Thankfully, the show finished without incident and a satisfied audience left the arena with more Tim and Faith than I think anyone expected. I'm pretty sure everyone was ok with that.

And even if you don't like country music (I too, once used to claim I liked "Everything but country"), check out "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw and have it change your mind.

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you're so country right now.


yes, you're certainly country now. and nothing wrong with that! good review, love faith (not as much as your secret crush:)), though i have to say her vocals to me seems to be hit and miss at times. but she always have great performing skills.

Jamie Moore

If ya'll are wondering...yes this is THE Jamie Moore, who attended this unforgettable concert with DC. DC- I had so much fun, and even more fun reading your blog after the fact! You described every aspect of the concert with such detail and I felt like I was there alllllllll over again! I loved reading this. And PS- You're TOTALLY countryfied now!

Pastrami on Ry

I like hot moms, even if they sing country music.


not many concerts/musicians could make your tear up at a concert huh? I think that speaks highly of their preforming abilities, and content of their music. ALSO, i dont get the mosquito net. why dont they just close the doors to outside, or at least get some tiki torches...


good stuff. sounds like another excellent time.


I was lucky enough to go to their concert in San Jose, and reading this made me feel like I was experiencing the concert all over again!! Thanks man!

shim shim salabim

It looks like a WWF PPV setup. Were you hoping Nelly would pop out of the stands for another MTV friendly country-meets-the-streets combo platter?


As an "everything but country" music fan myself, I just checked out the "If you're reading this" track on YouTube. It just made me livid that the USofGWB is still at war, and songs like this are put out in the first place. But that's a rant for some other time, he's got a good voice.


love love love country... and tim mcgraw's balls...


...though i would never touch them... or at least not in front of faith hill...


Love Tim McGraw, almost as much as you love backstreet boys, haha, that was funny man... It brings back memories of working at the BBQ restaurant, glad you had a great time. The only thing better than sex is being Dave's wingwoman!


yet another awesome review..i love em both!


balls balls balls


awesome review! sweet pics, too! :)


That looked like a good concert


Wow Dave, such an entertaining writer! I still think Faith Hill is a punk for that jaw-dropping act of poor sportsmanship she displayed but whatevers. Her hubby is enough to make me overlook her insecurities.
Looks like it was a great show!


Lol... Too bad there wasn't another "jewel" grabbing incident. That would have been priceless.




Hey Dave! Love your review of the concert. I saw the show this summer - I was in 6th row, and I never noticed that the floor changed!! All's I could see were lights. Very interesting!!

Great review, as usual. I'd have to say Faith ranks right up there with Miss Underwood, but I must agree and say I think I like Carrie better! ;)

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I think faith hill has the right to drop her jaw at carrie underwood's award if she wanted to, not that I think she really meant to. It was just shocking that she could win such a big award after just one song. I liked carrie's song but still don't think it warrants the award she got. I think we're making more of it than it was anyways. Faith hill is a legend and I love her!!!!!!!!

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