Tim McGraw's Wichita show proves he's all about the music

06/11/2010 12:00 AM

06/11/2010 11:38 PM

Tim McGraw will yell "Come on!" during his songs to get the crowd worked up. He'll tap his leg in rhythm with his singing and occasionally sway his hips.

That's about all the showmanship McGraw gives. But even in his lack of movement and excitement, his passion for his craft was evident during his performance Friday at Intrust Bank Arena.

McGraw belted out more than 20 songs from his two-decade career while proudly and enthusiastically announcing early that he and his band were there only to play music.

"We don't (talk)," he told the crowd, "we just play music."

And that McGraw and his band, Dance Hall Doctors, did, launching into each song about a second after finishing the previous one.

McGraw was the headliner of a country music show that included Lady Antebellum, possibly the most popular group from any genre, and up-and-comers Love and Theft.

The only glimpses we've caught of McGraw's hair were in the football movies in which he played supporting roles —"Friday Night Lights" and "The Blind Side" — so it was no surprise when he showed up in his trademark black cowboy hat.

While he was far from a showman, McGraw was never boring. His band provided a unique sound, mixing in steel guitar and violin to provide a more conventional country sound.

If McGraw's voice is not distinguishable among many country singers who sound similar, he proved Friday that was by design.

He can deliver a more scratchy tone on rocking songs such as his opener, "Real Good Man," and sing with more twang when going for a more old-school sound, like on "Back When."

The packed crowd gave McGraw a loud ovation when his set began, showing fans hadn't used all their energy cheering for Lady Antebellum during its one-hour set.

Lady A's most recent album has spent several weeks at the top of the charts, and the trio has endeared itself to music fans of all genres by continually producing hits and through its upbeat live shows.

Though its music appears on country music charts, Lady A can't easily be fit into any category. Dave Haywood cuts a heavy electric guitar, while Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott combine for unique harmonies.

Kelley provides most of the lead vocals, but Friday's highlights came when Scott sang lead. Her turn on "American Honey" provided a break from the energetic songs at the beginning of the set, and she stole the duet with Kelley on "Need You Now."

While McGraw didn't match their energy level, he was versatile, and some of his best moments came when the stage lights went down for the acoustic portion of his performance.

One of McGraw's songs is called "Everybody Hates Me." That was proven wrong by the full and loud crowd, which was happy to let McGraw's music speak for itself.

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