By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Lifestyle Editor
As the house lights dimmed, the Indigo Girls quietly, with no need for introduction, took the stage. Despite the lack of fanfare, the sold-out crowd enthusiastically welcomed the Grammy award-winning folk-rock duo to McKinney with cheering and thunderous applause Friday night at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. The ladies responded in kind, kicking off a great night of music with their blockbuster hit, Closer To Fine as the audience danced and sang along.
The easy-going witty repoire between Amy Ray and Emily Saliers carried over from the stage to the audience, translating well within the walls of the intimate venue of MPAC’s Courtroom Theater. Between that, and the fact that the legions of fans in attendance knew every word to every song, made for an exceptionally fun evening that at times felt less like a concert and more like a fantastic sing-along with your very favorite girlfriends.
“We’ve been doing this since high school,” said Saliers. “Thank you for allowing us to continue to have a career.”
Following the opening song, the girls traded their acoustic guitars for a mandolin and electric banjo for Get Out The Map, then, switched instruments once again, adding Ray’s harmonica into the mix for Becoming You. Throughout the evening, Ray and Saliers frequently rotated through their extensive collection of stringed instruments, comfortably sharing honed accompaniment to the exquisitely blended vocal harmonies for which they are famous.
As the night progressed, fans were escorted through a musical journey through the Indigo Girls’ greatest hits. Southland In The Springtime heard the audience laughing and cheering as the ladies sang, “When God made me a Yankee he was teasing,” and hushing and barely breathing during the beautiful mournful ballad Share the Moon. Shame On You, the Indigo Girls’ anthem tackling illegal immigration drew applause as they sang, “I think we were on the same boat in 1694,” with the pulsing rock and power-filled rhythms of Chicken Man bringing the audience back to their feet to dance along.
Long-time fan Sherry Lewallen has followed the Indigo Girls since her high school days, having seen them live in concert numerous times throughout the years. As known for their fierce and loyal fan base as for their musical talent and activism, Lewallen’s experience is more the norm than the exception. For Lewallen, their heartfelt lyrics are at the root of what keeps her loyal to her favorite duo.
“Their lyrics and stories weave humanity together into a single tapestry,” she said.
Following the final song of their two-hour music- and humor-filled set, the audience showed their appreciation with a standing ovation roaring for more, bringing Amy Ray back onto the stage alone. Ray delighted the crowd with a sweet and humorous little ditty she penned after the time her dog ate a copperhead. The crowd still on their feet broke into cheers as Emily Saliers returned to the stage for their final encore, their 1992 top-10 hit, Galileo, found on their platinum-selling fourth studio album Rites of Passage.
In the end, it appeared that the Indigo Girls enjoyed the evening and the ambiance as much as their fans did. Looking around the theater, taking it all in, Ray said, “This is a great space. My respect for your community for making it happen.”
Photos by Dan Jarvis, TSB Photographer/Videographer