Live Review

Turnpike Troubadours, Miranda Lambert, and John Pardi, Tacoma Dome

Turnpike Troubadours on February 1, 2018

In previewing the Turnpike Troubadours’ gig opening for Miranda Lambert at the Tacoma (Wash.) Dome on Feb. 1, I wrote that they would “likely be restricted to about 45 minutes of stage time, max.” It turned out to be more like 30, which is de rigueur for a sub-sub-headliner on a three-act bill that’s just breaking into mainstream country’s collective consciousness.

But the Troubadours aren’t John Pardi, the other act on the bill whose talents and demeanor are closer to the bull’s eye of a Music Row dues-payer. He knows the drill, and will happily fall in line until he’s attracted a fervent enough fan base — Pardi Animals! — to book his own sheds.

Conversely, limiting the Troubadours to such a short set is like sending Gun Runner to race against quarter horses at Ruidoso Downs instead of dominating the thoroughbred division. They’re a band that’s meant to play … and play … and play some more. Their virtuosic talents and penchant for volcanic jams shouldn’t be shut down until the taps run dry. And even if the taps run dry, someone’ll have a bottle to pass around, right?

So was it worth it? The Troubadours left me wanting more (Good lord, Lorrie!), through no fault of their own, but Lambert is such a sterling, no-bullshit performer that the entire experience ranked as first-rate. From the Troubadours’ perspective, however, even if they’re playing before crowds that aren’t necessarily there for them on their 'Ran run, they’re still playing before the biggest crowds of their career. And if they turned even one-tenth of the folks in attendance into true TPT believers (I’m betting they did), they’ll be top-lining roomier rooms in no time.

The music industry — country, especially — can be a place where people are motivated by the prospect of success, not passion. But even for those who play because G-chords are coarsing through their veins — whether it’s in front of three drunks at a San Antonio icehouse or 20,000 drunks at the Tacoma Dome — it’s a job. And there are far worse apprenticeships than supporting someone as gracious and gifted as Lambert, whose fans are there for the music, not the mascara.