Photos and review by Patrick Dunn
One common theme I hear artists express when doing a holiday performance is that it’s a fun break from playing their normal material. In fact, Country superstar Sara Evans said she only wanted to perform Christmas songs (her favorites being the religious ones) on their 10 city “Blue Christmas” tour. She did end up sandwiching in 3 of her biggest hits during their December 22nd performance at the Mystic Lake Showroom, which was the last show of their tour, year and decade.
The spirit of the season could be felt inside the venue with fancy silver Christmas trees and light filled pine branches lining the stage. Holiday themed images including snowflakes and a glowing fireplace were projected on the giant backdrop, greatly enhanced by a vibrant big production light show. The sound was dialed in at a comfortable level and mixed perfectly insuring all necessary elements were in place to provide a great experience for the near capacity crowd.
I was interested to learn that this outing was a real family affair for Evans. Of the 7-piece band, over half is made up of family: big brother Matt (bass and music director), little sister Leslie (back-up vocals), daughter Olivia (back-up vocals, featured on “Last Christmas”), son Avery (guitar, featured on “Run Rudolph Run”). Additionally, youngest daughter Audrey also joined in to contribute vocals on a playful version of “The 12 Days of Christmas”. It was apparent they also treated supporting act “Temecula Road” as family, which came across in the warmth they added to “O Come All Ye Faithful” with their lush harmonies.
Guitarist, Ben Thompson, infused Country flavor into most tunes with expert phrasing, best exercised on “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. The bands versatility was in full view on “Silent Night”, one of the evenings prettiest selections. I hadn’t realized how challenging these holiday classics must be to sing as many of them build up to big-time notes, particularly “Oh Holy Night”, this being a place where Evan’s really shines. Aside from the extensive offering of Christmas material, “A Little Bit Stronger” was still a crowd favorite and one of the show’s best.
Evan’s mentioned they will be taking the month of January off, but revealed they will be hitting it hard again come February with a new album to tour behind.
Set List: – Sleigh Ride – At Christmas – I’ll Be Home for Christmas (If Only in My Dreams) (Bing Crosby cover) – Walking in a Winter Wonderland – The Christmas Song – Born to Fly – Suds In The Bucket – A Little Bit Stronger – Last Christmas – O Come, All Ye Faithful (Frederick Oakeley cover) – The Twelve Days of Christmas – Silent Night (Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber cover) – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane cover) – Oh Holy Night (Adolphe Adam cover) – Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry cover)
Encore: White Christmas – All I Want For Christmas Is You