The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band delivered an intimate performance last night at the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) that any die-hard country fan would appreciate.
Opening for the California-based band and setting the mood for the evening was Nice Horse, a foursome of females hailing from Alberta. Their vocals were what blew the crowd away, reaching angelic octaves in sync, complemented by their string instruments.
The ladies played mostly sweet and slower melodies but did manage to include a few new songs for the appreciative crowd in their half-hour set. Their performance made clear that the night was going to be about good old-fashioned country music, not country pop songs lacking lyrics and depth.
When Nitty Gritty took to the stage it was the first time the arena exploded with applause, proving that while the band formed in the 1960s, they are very much still relevant today. It was straight to business for the group, giving the crowd a mix of their slow songs and up-tempo beats, taking the time to tell stories and jokes in between sets.
The group has been performing for decades, which may be why they chose a simplistic set design and avoided theatrics such as light shows and stage dancing. This didn’t stop band members from interacting with one another though, showing the crowd that they were there to enjoy themselves too.
Surprisingly, their vocals sounded just as youthful as ever for those worried that age may have stolen this group’s talent over the years. Overall their sound was well-rounded with the addition of an extra guitar and violinist.
The performance managed to get the crowd on its feet multiple times for classic songs like Fishin’ in the Dark and Cadillac Ranch, but ultimately the fans were more focused on appreciating the music than raising the SOEC’s roof. That being said, any free space on the floor behind the seats was quickly filled with two-stepping action.
All-in-all, the concert was a great homage to classic country but still managed to give the crowd a good variety of music to enjoy. This style of performance is a far cry from the booze-soaked, muddied country festivals that seem to be sweeping North America more and more.
If you’re a fan of classics and are appreciative of country music for its lyrics and performance, I highly recommend seeing either one of these bands.
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