Grammy Award-winning country artist Miranda Lambert has been on the road since shortly after the first of the year and this Saturday night brought her entire entourage to the Wolstein Center for what appeared to be a nearly sold-out performance.  The crowd was large and spirits and expectations were high and Ms. Lambert certainly did not disappoint.

First up though – a duo of acts was in place to warm the crowd.  First up was The Steel Woods – a rock/country act that certainly leans more towards rock than country – I mean, they list Metallica and Led Zeppelin as their musical influences, and it shows.  While firmly planted with a metal edge, there is no denying their country influence as well and the end result is actually – rather spectacular.  Their short and tight set left the crowd asking for more and wondering where these guys came from.  If you like rock music, look these guys up.  If you like country music, look these guys up – hell, if you just like all around good music, look these guys up.

Keeping to a tight schedule – the stage was quickly reset and it was time for Jon Pardi to hit the stage.  Obviously having a large following in the crowd – Jon hit the stage to a wild, enthusiastic reception. Touring to promote his certified Gold album California Sunrise – Pardi is a consummate showman who knows his strengths and plays to them well. His 11 song set flowed quickly and hit the high points of his young – ever growing career.  The crowd reaction was huge with everyone dancing and singing along.  Another genre-blurring artist – there is little confusion that Pardi is country first but by opening the show with a recording of Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero – which segued into his opening song Paycheck – there is little doubt that a heavy rock influence is also present.

By the end of Pardi’s nearly 40-minute set – the crowd was now primed and ready for Miranda Lambert to hit the stage.  Another quick set change brought that wish to fruition quickly.

Lambert and her band hit the stage with That’s The Way The World Goes ‘Round – Lambert stalked the stage – waving and soaking in the warmth of the near capacity crowd.  Through a dazzling light show and with large video screens behind her – Lambert managed to draw in the large crowd and gave us all a show that will not soon be forgotten.

Ripping through a huge 21 song set that included one encore – her song choices perfectly spanned her career while also throwing a few surprises our way.  Lambert showed a huge range, not only her ability as a singer but also in her love of music of all genres.  A thoroughly entertaining collection of hits – if you weren’t a fan of Miranda when you walked into the auditorium, you most certainly were by the time you left.

I walked into the show knowing very little about any of the acts – country music not being a genre I often visit but, you can now chalk me up in the fan catagory.  I get it now – I see what I’ve been missing.  Miranda Lambert, Jon Pardi and The Steel Woods can add another fan to their list of converts.  The energy and power of the evening was intoxicating and the level of talent a sheer joy to behold.