Intrust Bank Arena's first sold-out concert drew a crowd of nearly 15,000 country music fans downtown Friday for a concert featuring two legends of the genre — Reba McEntire and George Strait. Both of the headliners played long sets packed with music that spanned their careers, dating from the early 1980s to present.
By the time Strait hit the stage — which was set up in the center of the arena floor for in-the-round viewing — fans had been amply warmed up not only by McEntire but also by opening act Lee Ann Womack, a big country music star in her own right.
Straight, wearing his signature Wranglers and black cowboy hat (and looking excessively tan), played his way through hits from the '80s —"The Fireman" and "Ocean Front Property" — the '90s —"Check Yes or No" and "Heartland" — and the 2000s, "Run" and "I Hate Everything."
Strait traveled from microphone to microphone between songs, making sure he faced fans on each side of the stage for a song or two. Giant video screens above the stage on all sides compensated fans getting the backside view.
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Strait, who at one point took a CD from a fan, signed it, and passed it back from the stage, also performed "The Chair," "Amarillo By Morning," "How 'Bout Them Cowgirls," and "Leave You With a Smile," among many others.
McEntire's flashier, 90-minute set also traveled through the decades of her hits and included songs such "The Greatest Man I Never Knew," "Why Haven't I Heard from You," "The Fear of Being Alone" and her current single "I Keep on Loving You."
McEntire also offered a run through some of her more famous ballads about no-good rotten cheating heartbreakers, including "Fallin' Out of Love," "Somebody Should Leave" and "For My Broken Heart." In the middle of McEntire's set, Womack reappeared on stage to accompany her on the duet "Does He Love You," a number that showcased both the singers' vocal range and power.
McEntire's encore was one of her most famous songs, "Fancy." She returned to the stage inside an actual yellow taxi cab, mimicking her famous video for the song. She wore a sparkly, fringed red dress as she performed the song.
Among those in the crowd was devoted George Strait fan Judy Watson, who attended the show with her daughter and a friend who endured a cold winter morning for the arena's ticket lottery to get their seats.
The trio got an upgrade to seats just five rows back because their original seats were blocked by a camera that obscured the view of the stage.
"His music is just really good," Watson said of Strait. "It just continues to evolve."