FORT WORTH -- Forget lingering slush and frozen fog.
With a scorching intensity, Lindale native Miranda Lambert heated up a sold-out Billy Bob’s Texas Friday night with a performance mixing sensitivity and sass. It was a vastly different showing than her last appearance at the legendary honky-tonk, nearly three years to the day. Previously, Lambert’s between-song patter consisted of endless thanks and plugs for her second album, 2007’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The music was forceful and dynamic, but the performer seemed ever so slightly hesitant.
No more – this is an artist with not only plenty of miles under her belt, but a healthy helping of awards, as well. (Not to mention a microphone stand made out of a shotgun; that would give even Miley Cyrus gravitas.) The unwavering confidence could be felt all the way to the back rows; Lambert defiantly punched out selections from her latest record, last year’s Revolution, which sit comfortably alongside staples like Kerosene and Gunpowder & Lead.
The rock ‘n’ roll covers have been retained and updated – Joan Jett and Rod Stewart this time around – but they felt less like stall tactics and more like a genuine reflection of Lambert’s boundless enthusiasm for a good song, regardless of genre. It also helps that Lambert has, since her second album, embraced the storied Nashville tradition of selecting killer cuts, penned by other songwriters, and making them her own – case in point, John Prine’s That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round.
Aided by her powerhouse band, tender ballads like the exquisite The House That Built Me and snarling barn burners like Maintain the Pain blended to form a seamless, 90-minute set that was over far too soon.
Although the event was tied to the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities, the only trace of the NBA was evidenced by some on-stage banners and a few placards scattered on tables. Lambert made no mention of the game, although she did trot out an all-star special guest for the encore: boyfriend Blake Shelton. He showed off his latest single, Hillbilly Bone, and along with Lambert, delivered a genuinely touching rendition of his hit cover, Home. It made for a sweet conclusion – just in time for Valentine’s Day -- to a seriously sizzling evening.