Country star serenades sold-out show

Grade: A

A word of advice to Travis Tritt: If you perform again in Muncie, book Worthen Arena instead of Emens Auditorium. Your fans need room to dance.

More than 3,000 country music fans buckled their belts, put their cowboy hats on and filed into Emens through Saturday's foggy night. Nothing about Tritt's show would remain a haze, however. The seven-time platinum country artist proved himself to be a bright performer with the ability to put on quite a show.

Tritt jogged onstage wearing black leather pants and jacket. He circled the stage, stopped at the center stage microphone and began to sing "Put Some Drive in Your Country." As Tritt kicked up his feet and wiggled his ankles, a hooting, howling frenzy consumed the audience.

Tritt's body movements did not appear choreographed. He wasn't even that talented of a dancer, but what made Tritt genuine was he looked like a normal man having fun. The audience could relate.

Each time Tritt moved, the audience was mesmerized. In his second song, "I'm Gonna Be Somebody," Tritt spread out his arms as he sang, "One of these days I'm gonna break these chains." Audience members squealed as if Tritt had just performed in "Riverdance."

All together, Tritt sang 27 different songs in a non-stop two-hour-and-20-minute show. His voice sounded clear -- not manufactured or manipulated -- another refreshing aspect to the concert.

As Tritt sang "Where Corn Don't Grow," all he had to do was take three steps backwards with bouncy footing -- the audience loved it.

Tritt also did well introducing his songs. He spent five minutes chatting with the crowd about financial trouble to set up the song, "Livin' on Borrowed Time." Tritt told the audience he once borrowed money from one credit card to pay on another.

"If you ain't ever borrowed from you MasterCard to make payments on your Visa card, take it from ol' Travis -- there ain't no future in it," Tritt said.

The audience, of course, found Tritt to be quite the comedian. As Tritt sang the song, there was a constant exchange of energy between the audience and the performer. Tritt didn't need complex lighting or elaborate effects; all he had to do was wiggle to win the crowd's admiration.

Tritt also discussed the recent Sept. 11 attacks and the bombing of Afghanistan with the audience.

"I started thinking about all these little kids who aren't going to see their moms and dads again, and it literally made me sick to my stomach," Tritt said.

Tritt described the series of emotions he went through, saying he was first sad, then angry. Tritt said he felt better when bombing began in Afghanistan, but he said last week he was angry again with people who spoke out against retaliating.

"I just wanted to grab 'em and shake 'em," Tritt said. "What in the world do they expect us to do? Lay down and take it and let anybody in the world do whatever they want?

"Maybe it's the redneck in me, but I think there's a whole lot of others who feel the same way I do."

Tritt then performed a 1968 Merle Haggard song with the lyrics, "If you don't like it here, then get out."

Tritt tried to end the show with his hit, "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," but the audience demanded an encore. For five minutes, audience members chanted "Travis! Travis! Travis!" until he came back to the stage for 35 more minutes.

In the encore, Tritt covered the Waylon Jennings song, "Mamma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys," complete with a Willie Nelson impression. Tritt reversed roles, and had the audience sing the chorus to him. Tritt ended the show for a second time with the Lynyrd Skynrd hit, "Sweet Home Alabama."


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