When your voice is all you have, it better be good. Powerful enough to keep 18,000 fans hanging on your every lyric. Passionate enough to make them not just hear your voice but feel it.
Friday night, Tim McGraw's voice was that good.
That's when McGraw, along with wife Faith Hill, opened their three-night Chicago stint at the Allstate Arena. This Soul2Soul II is the first time in six years they've toured together.
For the people who had floor seats, hearing McGraw's seasoned vocals was more important than ever, because the elaborate iron-cross center stage, with 7-foot-high catwalks, made it impossible for the crowd on one side to see him when he was on the other side of the arena.
McGraw and Hill opened with Hill's recent hit, "Like We Never Loved At All." Then Hill went on to belt out 13 of her own hits -- the old ones that catapulted her to fame, such as "This Kiss" and "The Way You Love Me," as well as singles off her recent album, "Fireflies," such as "The Lucky One," which has already made it to No. 5 on Billboard's country charts. On "It Is Well," three backing vocalists joined Hill for an a cappella rendition of the gospel song.
While Hill admitted to being nervous, you'd never know she'd taken time off to be with her three daughters. She sang like the star that she is and even stopped to tell a few stories along the way, including a lament about the bra size she had back when she was breastfeeding.
McGraw came back onstage for two more songs with his wife, then went on to perform a string of songs that have earned him his stripes as a singer as well as a live act worthy of being named Ticketmaster's most requested event for the first quarter of 2006. His set included songs from way back, when his voice had a lot more twang. Judging from the audience reaction, though, nobody minds that his voice has matured and smoothed out.
Even the new songs from McGraw's greatest hits CD were accepted with open arms. Especially "My Little Girl." This marks the first tour in which McGraw's performing a song he co-wrote. "Ever since I moved to Nashville, I've always written songs," said McGraw. "But I never liked anything." Plenty of his other songs, such as "Don't Take the Girl" and "Live Like You Were Dying," turned into audience sing-a-longs.
Hill came back out and joined McGraw for a four-song encore, including a cover of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry."
After the final song, and a long kiss, McGraw and Hill made their way around the stage, giving everyone one last glimpse of what love looks like on superstars.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune