June 20, 2003
Philips Arena - Atlanta
For their farewell tour, Alabama did a three and a half hour show that included all their hits and then some. Even with a twenty-minute intermission, they managed to touch every base they ever had during a 44 song double set. Alabama kicked off the night with When It All Goes South, which was not a great opener and failed to capture the energy most of the crowd seemed to feel. I had never noticed before, but most Alabama songs fall into one of two camps, between which the song selection alternated. First is the stand-up-and-clap-your-hands category, which includes If You Wanna Play In Texas (Youve Got To Have A Fiddle In The Band) and Roll On. Singer Randy Owen got the audience worked up about the Braves before launching into a rousing version of The Cheap Seats. Mountain Music, played late in the evening, also included foot stomping and a full on rock-style drum solo that delighted the crowd. Guitarist Jeff Cook, who played a Day-Glo green guitar that injected a shot of color among their neutral stage clothes, sang Too Rock For Country, Too Country for Rock and Roll with plenty of guts. Elvis could have covered this rollicking tune in his later years. Reckless Tonight seemed to be Alabamas attempt at being Bruce Springsteen and was the most straightforward rock and roll song.
There is also the romantic slow song category, which became as overly sugary as an entire bag of trick-or-treat candy consumed on Halloween night. The sweetly sexual lyrics of Face to Face were typical of this type of song. Randy is not afraid to make himself vulnerable, and people obviously think hes sexy because of this. Girls and old ladies alike screamed their excitement whenever he crooned about gentle bedroom encounters, and someone even threw what looked suspiciously like panties onto the stage. I Want To Know You Before I Make Love To You could be a huge R&B single if covered by an appropriate artist. Love in Pictures, which is about missing out on a childs milestones, could have been covered by Elvis during his guilty phase. Randy wiped away tears at the songs conclusion. The unplugged Feels So Right was the best of the slow song genre. For some reason, Love In The First Degree, a song that falls into neither of these two categories, was cut short although it would have added some much needed diversity. Variety was provided in the form of excellent musicianship that included fiddles, piano, harmonica, and even accordion and double-necked guitar at appropriate points. There were 80s style keyboards for Once In A Lifetime, Shagging on the Boulevard featured a saxophone solo. Dixieland Delight deviated into a mandolin solo and a foot stomping hoedown that had the crowd jumping for joy.
Along with the danceable segments, there were poignant moments as well. At every performance since September 11, Alabama has asked the audience to sing America the Beautiful to them while they listen proudly. The band seemed genuinely touched by the huge crowds display of patriotism . They closed with My Homes In Alabama and linked arms to take a bow. No encores cluttered this fitting ending for the most successful band in country music.
Amanda Stahl / concertshots.com