Miranda Lambert Was Country Music's Biggest Badass Last Night at American Airlines Center

MIranda Lambert
MIranda Lambert
Amy McCarthy

Miranda Lambert With Justin Moore and Sunny Sweeney American Airlines Center, Dallas Thursday, March 12, 2015

There's nothing more electrifying than seeing a hometown girl come back to the city that built her. Miranda Lambert, who got her start playing in honky-tonks and festivals across Texas, spent plenty of time in Dallas as she honed that award-winning sound. Now, she's the biggest star in country music, which is exactly what made last night's show at the American Airlines Center so great.

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The evening opened with Sunny Sweeney, an artist who deserves the same type of fame that Lambert has achieved after working it out for years on Texas' stages. Sweeney's similar badass Texas girl brand is infectious and enjoyable to listen to, especially on tongue-in-cheek tracks like "Trophy," a song dedicated to her husband's first wife. If there has ever been stronger proof that Texas grows the most badass women on the planet than this bill, I'll eat my hat.

Justin Moore, a good ole boy who's blown up the country charts over the last year, took the stage next. His performance was somewhat disjointed; going from Sunny Sweeney's quality songwriting and vocals to Moore's reliance on his tight Wranglers to enthuse the crowd was a bit of a letdown. But maybe that was just me -- the audience seemed to be much more into Moore's performance than Sweeney's, which was probably the biggest disappointment of the night.

When she finally took the stage, Lambert herself seemed pretty stoked to be back home. Growing up in Lindale, Texas, it is likely that she made the barely-over-an-hour drive into Dallas to the American Airlines Center or Reunion Arena to see her own heroes. Even though she's won every award under the sun and sold out bigger venues, coming home to a full house in Dallas clearly still strikes a chord with Lambert. That much was made clear by the tears she wiped away toward the end of the set.

She also is very clearly dedicated to empowering women, whether it's the artists she puts on her bills (like Ashley Monroe and Sunny Sweeney), or those sitting in her audience, singing along to every word. Before she took the stage, a countdown montage of some of history's most famous and powerful women played on the projector. Sweeney even made a point during her set to thank Lambert for her efforts in making country music a better place for women. As a fan, I also appreciate that work.

Never one to shy away from being a badass, Lambert came out swinging with "Fastest Girl In Town," a track that first helped thrust her into mainstream country's gaze. She then worked through tracks from her latest release Platinum, including some deeper cuts. A performance of "Priscilla," her ode to Priscilla Presley and trying to keep her famous marriage together (and my personal favorite track on that record), was a perfect three-minute personification of the badass small-town girl image that Lambert has cultivated.

Speaking of her famous marriage, Lambert's husband Blake Shelton made a surprise appearance for an intimate performance of "Austin," Shelton's breakout hit. I generally hate these types of sappy husband-and-wife love fests, but there is so much genuine affection in this relationship that I don't even mind when they kissed all sappy-like at the end of the track. Seeing Shelton and Lambert perform this track together is also further indication that these to country music juggernauts need to finally record a damn album together.

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Lambert also wasn't afraid to delve deeper into her catalog, finding the tracks that made her fans take notice in the first place. A stripped-down, acoustic performance of "Dead Flowers," the 2009 track from Revolution that earned her a Grammy nod, was a showcase of her raw vocal talent. For someone who first noticed Lambert on Nashville Star in the early 2000s, seeing her turn that talent into blockbuster success is extremely satisfying.

It is going to be difficult for the country acts coming to Dallas over the rest of the year to top what Lambert did last night at the American Airlines Center. If this is the future of country music, the genre is moving into a much better place. Fortunately, Lambert and the women that she has inspired to jump into this occasionally unfriendly business will continue to help drive that change. As a fan, I can't think of a future more exciting.

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