'Dixie Chicks in Concert: On the Fly'
3 stars - Watch and tape
There's something down-right inspiring about the Dixie Chicks, and that comes across fully in the concert footage that makes up the major part of their first television special.
This trio of sassy songbirds who actually have musical talent has become something of a liberating call for young girls who've grown up listening to Nashville cowboy-hat pop most of their lives, and the energy the band shares with its audience charges right into your living room.
Unfortunately, in a bow to the dumb gods of television, the concert footage in somewhat undercut by a series of skits featuring the stunningly unfunny Andy Dick as a would-be image molder. Ladies, you kick butt on stage. Stay there and never speak to Andy Dick again.
That said, the Chicks - singer Natalie Maines, fiddler Martie Seidel and multiinstrumentalist Emily Robison - sure put on a show. Most of the tunes here are from the multiplatinum second disc, Fly, and were performed in Washington, D.C., before an audience of apparently 6 zillion.
Not only are the most high-profiles songs from the album - the happily murderous "Goodbye Earl," the bouncy "Ready to Run" - performed ably, but also the true gems. Maines belts out "Cold Day in July" with just the right touch of ache, and the three go wild on "Sin Wagon," with sisters Robison and Seidel trading licks with the rest of their band.
Visually the Chicks are just loud enough without coming off completely Vegas. Their opening curtain is a zipper being drawn down a pair of jeans, they march up and down platforms and have enough choreographed moves to keep things interesting.
But there are no cheap costume changes, no one goes flying through the air on a wire and the focus is definitely on the music.
The spot light is on Maines a good deal of the time. Looking like she'd just as soon tackle a guy as bed him, she has a cocky physical presence that can turn to sudden vulnerability, and as a group the three still look like they're having fun.
Aside from the awful skits, On the Fly effectively captures the Dixie Chicks, and these birds are well worth watching.
The Dixie Chicks: On the Fly, The hugely successful country music trio performs hits from the albums Wide Open Spaces and Fly as first-time headliners of their own television special. Compiled from two shows recorded at MCI Arena in Washington, D.C., the hour offers the women - Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Seidel - in concert footage and backstage interviews.