The Dixie Chicks returned to Columbus last night after a ten-year absence, and it was clear from the start that the group was happy to be back in Ohio’s capital.
Elle King, who spent some of her childhood in Columbus, opened the show perfectly. With a sound that is a rock and roll and country music-hybrid, her deep and growling vocals and unpolished stage presence were reminiscent of Janis Joplin.
Watching King be so openly grateful to be back home and playing this size of venue — even if it was as an opener — was infectious.
The Chicks winked about their time away by starting their set with “The Long Way Around”.
Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, and Martie Maguire stood in a line across the stage as the rest of their band played on the sidelines during the first half of the concert.
After a brief wardrobe change (this is their first tour with such a thing, Maines commented), the trio returned to the alone to play a few songs, one of which was a beautiful rendition of “Travelin’ Soldier.”
The ladies then welcomed their band back on stage to begin a performance that felt more like I was at an intimate front-porch jamboree than a cavernous arena.
The Chicks spent most of their evening running through crowd-favorites like, “Goodbye Earl” and “Cowboy Take Me Away.”
There was also an element of homage paid to the artists that came before and those that they respect today. Before taking the stage, The Chicks played Prince’s recording of “Let’s Go Crazy” in its entirety. The group also paid their respects by covering “Nothing Compares 2 U”, a song famously written by The Purple One himself.
Having famously covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” years before, it was almost a guarantee that the song would make an appearance at some point, which it did, but this time The Chicks brought Elle King back on stage to sing along.
And while The Chicks are known to have moxie they further proved that by venturing a road that few dare to travel by attempting a cover of Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons”. Turning the song into a bluegrass-tinged treat, the crowd ate it up.
As the evening came to an end, the ladies played “Wide Open Spaces” as the audience sang along so loud that Maines’ powerful voice was swallowed whole by the enthusiasm.
Saving their angst-ridden hit “Not Ready to Make Nice” for the two-song encore was a perfect way to end the evening.
It was clear from the beginning that The Chicks haven’t lost their edge in the decade that has passed since their last visit to Columbus. Maines’ incredible vocals are as strong as ever. Maguire and Robison’s skills at playing the fiddle and banjo, respectively, fill out the Chicks’ sound.
Let’s hope that it isn’t 2026 before The Dixie Chicks visit us again.