It's here: The annual Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
two-night Chicago stop. If you're going, or thinking
about it, here's what you need to know to make the
most of the shows.
Is it just like last year's tour?
Some elements feel very familiar, such as the
iron-cross stage and the two top-tier artists, but
there are a few changes. Hill's road manager Bernie
Boyle says the look, feel and sound are new. "We
haven't just come back with last year's show," Boyle
said. "Chicago's known for great restaurants -- but
all they have is meat, poultry and fish. If you keep
going back, though, the chef can rework the
ingredients -- we've done the same thing."
Will McGraw be playing tunes from his new album "Let
He'll do a few of new ones, sure. But McGraw will
unleash the old stuff, too. "If we didn't," he told
the Tribune, "we'd get run out of town." And expect
unexpected covers. McGraw and Hill have been opening
shows with a duet of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," so
apparently even alt-rock songs can become country
Where's the best place to sit?
Technically, there's no front row with a stage like
this -- a center stage with four catwalks. And the
height of the stage creates obstructed views. So
McGraw recommends sitting in the first level off the
floor. "For listening and viewing, up top's where you
want to be," he said. For Tim touchers, however, the
floor's the sweet spot. Just know that if you reach
any higher than his leg, you'll have to endure the
wrath of Hill. "Last summer a woman went for his
crotch, and I gave her a piece of my mind," Hill
Any cool opening acts?
This time, McGraw and Hill are bringing Taylor Swift
along. She could fill all 19,000 seats with her
MySpace friends alone, and is seeing McGraw live for
the first time on this tour. "This is like the
ultimate backstage pass," said Swift. She plays a
12-string guitar and writes her own songs, which gives
her an authenticity well beyond her 17 years.
Why do they need such an elaborate production?
McGraw told the Tribune, "We've done plenty of shows
where we just turn on the amps and play, but this is
what fans want." Some fans on McGraw message boards,
though, seem to long for the days when the show was
more straightforward, and McGraw was more accessible.
High-end shows yield more take-home pay, but the lack
of intimacy may turn off those who like country shows
for their down-home feel.
Can I catch a glimpse of Tim and Faith hanging out in
Not likely. The McGraws will probably be hanging at
the venue with their three girls and family dog
instead of exploring the city. "It's hard to do that,
because everyone's looking out for us," McGraw
Time for Faith? Or faith in Tim?
If you love Faith: Stay tuned early in the night when
she takes the stage for her slew of No. 1s. Recent
tunes "Lost" and "Mississippi Girl" plus old ones such
as "This Kiss" and "The Way You Love Me" are sure to
get fans on their feet.
If you love Tim: Be glad he's the main act. Because
he'll be the one on stage the longest, doing all his
famous stuff: "Something Like That," "Real Good Man,"
"I Like It, I Love It." Don't go for a beer run during
his set, or else you might miss newer songs such as
If you love both: Grab the fan next to you and sway
along to lust-laden duets such as current single "I
Need You" or 2006 Grammy winner "Like We Never Loved
at All." McGraw and Hill have a way of collaborating
live that makes you believe they're in love.
If you love Taylor Swift: Her set will be short, so
get there early to hear her sing the song that got her
the gig, "Tim McGraw."
Soul2Soul 2007 with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Country's first couple reigns for two nights in
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St.
Price: $49.75-89.75; 312-559-1212
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune