May 8, Dixon, CA.
By Randy Cohen
.......Everything is uphill from here for Faith Hill's "This Kiss Tour." Hill's concert trek was only eight- teen days old when it rolled in the Dixon Fairgrounds on Saturday night. Faith Hill showed every sign of maturity. An energetic Hill backed by a nine-piece band greeted the sold out house. It was an unusually large band for a country singer, but it seems that Hill, like Shania Twain, wants to walk the fine line of embracing a larger audience of rock listeners without alienating her country fan base. She's clearly got the stage presence to make the jump from the medium-sized theaters on this tour to arenas and giant amphitheaters. Hill is a golden-voiced songstress who spent the evening trying to downplay the All-American performer image that made her the darling of the country music circuit. That would have been fine if the only change had been the decision to dress like she was getting ready to change the oil in her tour bus. The classy traditional cover girl look of the past was traded for torn jeans and a T-shirt, with her long "I Dream of Jeannie" ponytail. I did not like her hair at first, but I think she looks younger with it.
.............Hill's early performances of "She's a Wild One" and "Take Me as I Am" barely allowed her to take a breath. The energetic "She's a Wild One" came across stilted, as Hill appeared to be more interested in the robotlike choreography than singing Hill turned her wonderfully fun "Let's Go To Vegas" into a test of endurance for the audience. Let's go on to something else. Maybe it was just nerves; but Hill never seemed to connect with the audience. Shouts of "We love you, Faith" left her as confused as a third-grader trying to recall the next line of his Christmas pageant role. Hill finally slowed the speed-crazed show by surrounding herself with her band in the "MTV Unplugged" fashion that has become so popular. But that effort went wrong as Hill giggled through introductions of her nine-piece band. It would have been fine if the audience had been in on the joke. Hill and company acted like they were having their own private slumber party. Working to please with the determination of a fitness guru: strutting, hopping, dancing, twirling, thrusting index fingers skyward repeatedly and chatting good-naturedly with fans at the edge of the stage.
..........They got one good strong performance of the Cyndi Lauper tune "Time After Time." Hill's version of Aretha Franklin's "Chain and a rendition of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me of Fools". With a striking performance of "It Matters To Me" - Hill would go spiraling off into another musical direction. .Then she sang her hit "This Kiss", it was also one of the most stirring moments in her 75-minute. All I can say is that she put on a energy pumped show, and demonstrated Hill's indisputable command of the stage. But I'd rather see her looking like herself, with her own short hair, and hear her sing some of the older country songs, in addition to her hits, instead of the 80s stuff. After all, she is supposed to be a country singer. Don't get me wrong though, I'd gladly go back and hear her again and again.
.......The Warren Brothers opened for Faith and they were great. I had never really heard any of their songs, but left loving them and their music. After the concert, they signed autographs and met with fans.
By Randy Cohen