Smoky skies didn’t deter thousands of Alabama fans from seeing the iconic country band at Northern Quest Resort and Casino on Wednesday night. Nor did it deter the band from delivering on a promise – hit after hit.
With a catalog of 43 No. 1 singles, including 21 straight No. 1’s, the band has plenty of material to work with during “The Hits Tour 2018.”
But first a trio of fresh-faced teens took the stage.
Temecula Road, featuring sisters Emma, 19, and Maddie Salute, 17, and longtime friend Dawson Anderson, 19, got the crowd’s attention with their tight harmonies and engaging banter.
They sang a couple of their originals and then did quick snatches of hit songs from past decades. As they prepared to leave the stage one of the girls remarked, “My mom’s first concert was Alabama back in the ’70s!”
That said, it was definitely a mixed-age audience. Folks who weren’t even born when Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook formed Alabama 49 years ago mingled with more-seasoned fans.
Flip-flops outnumbered cowboy boots, and there were few cowboy hats in sight, but make no mistake – this was a down-home country crowd of dedicated Alabama fans.
The first high-energy strains of “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” had the audience on its feet, roaring with appreciation.
Owen’s shaggy mane may be graying, but it hasn’t lost its luster, and neither has his voice. He swung right into “If You’re Going to Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”
Both flip-flops and cowboy boots thundered on Northern Quest’s new bleacher seats as the crowd stomped and sang along.
In fact, the entire concert was basically one big sing-along as Owen and bandmate Teddy Gentry encouraged the crowd to belt out the tunes.
Songs like “Tennessee River” and “Dixieland Delight” showcased the band’s classic country style.
The outdoor venue took on a tent revival feel when Owen launched into “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
He took a moment to reflect on the band’s journey.
“Forty-nine years ago we had a dream,” he said. “We never imagined we’d be here in Washington, but we live in a country where you can follow your dreams thanks to the men and women in uniform. This song’s for them.”
From the first note of “Born Country” to the last, the audience was on its feet. Some in the crowd waved American flags and others waved their arms, and it seemed like everyone knew the chorus by heart: “I was born country and that’s what I’ll always be. Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free. I got a hundred years of down-home runnin’ through my blood. I was born country and country’s what I love.”
Farmers and ranchers also got a special shout-out, prior to “Down Home.”
Asked if there were any farmers in the crowed, a guy behind us whooped and hollered, prompting his buddy to ask him why he was cheering.
“I was in 4-H Club!” he replied.
It seems everybody’s a little bit country in Spokane.
The band mostly stuck with the “hits” theme, but Gentry offered a sweet tribute to his wife of 47 years with a rendition of Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful.”
His mention of his great-granddaughter reminded the crowd just how long Alabama has been around.
Their success story includes 75 million records sold worldwide, more than 178 CMA, Grammy and ACM awards – and counting – along with 21 gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums, and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Fans who love the band’s crossover tunes weren’t disappointed.
“Love in the First Degree” and “The Closer You Get” delighted the crowd as did the ballad “Old Flame.”
Owen took time to “thank the dear Lord for having us record this song” before singing a heartfelt version of “Angels Among Us,” a song that had cellphone flashlights waving in the air throughout the venue.
A rollicking rendition of “Mountain Music,” including a reference to “floating down the Spokane River,” closed the show with the satisfied crowd once again on its feet and singing along.
Alabama’s 90 minutes of nonstop hits hit all the right notes.
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