Sara Evans entertains Show Me Center with mix of new and old country hits

Monday, January 29, 2007
Country singer and Missouri native Sara Evans performed at the Show Me Center Sunday night. She is the Academy of Country Music's reigning Female Vocalist of the Year. (Fred Lynch)

Opening act Radney Foster brings traditional style of stage show to Cape Girardeau.

The crowd for Sara Evans' Sunday night concert at the Show Me Center wasn't a large one, but it was a lively one, and Missouri native Evans fed off the energy.

Sunday night's Cape Girardeau date was part of her first tour after 10 years as a major label recording artist. Singer-songwriter Radney Foster is opening for Evans on the tour.

The 1,930 in attendance for the concert were ready for a show from the very start, greeting Foster -- who has a reputation as a songwriter's songwriter -- with loud cheers and applause. His solo acoustic set was something of a mix between stand-up comedy and concert, an act that would be right at home in any smoky country dive.

Foster's style is far different than Evans' -- stripped down, bare, traditional. But the fans loved Foster all the same, cheering loudly for familiar songs he co-wrote with marquee artists, like the hit Foster co-wrote with Keith Urban, "Raining on Sunday," and giving him a huge welcome as he opened with his own hit, "Just Call Me Lonesome."

Foster's folk-meets-honky-tonk style had the crowd warmed up nicely for Evans, who was greeted by a crowd on its feet, grooving to an anticipation-building fiddle and drum kit intro.

The reigning Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association female vocalist of the year quickly had the crowd enthralled as she ripped out a string of her new and old hits, starting with the bluegrass-tinged pop of "Coalmine."

Evans showed the crowd what has made her a country star with crossover appeal that goes well beyond traditional country fans -- strong charisma, great stage presence and music that often lands far outside the bounds of traditional country and finds itself in the realm of contemporary pop.

The set shifted between high energy pop numbers and slow, heartfelt ballads. At times Evans bounded and hopped across stage, shaking hands with people in the front row and gesturing to those in the risers.

When her energy rose, the crowd's seemed to follow, with audience members taking to their feet, dancing and waving arms (and signs) in the air.

A highlight of the show was "Cheatin," from Evans' latest album, "Real Fine Place." Evans strutted defiantly around stage as she sang the tale of an unfaithful significant other and his subsequent misfortune, eliciting huge cheers from throughout the arena and a note handed personally to Evans from a man in the crowd. She kept the note, as she did a piece of jewelry given to her by a young female fan earlier. Throughout the night, Evans also touched any child that was brought to the edge of the stage.

Combined with her great voice and songs with major pop appeal, Evans' public-embracing personality goes a long way toward explaining why the fans at the Show Me Center, though few in number, provided Evans with another warm welcome back to her home state.

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