McBryde sparkles in return to rodeo stage
Ashley McBryde was shining, in every sense of the word, from the moment she stepped on the stage at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
She was dressed in a sparkling red jumpsuit that exposed intricate tattoos on both arms. Her ponytail was laced with strands of glitter.
More importantly, McBryde herself was beaming, from stance to smile to her vocal delivery. This was a huge moment for her. She’s one of just two women and the only country female on this year’s lineup. (Christian pop singer Lauren Daigle performed last week.)
It didn’t matter that huge pockets of seats were empty. The crowd of 49,595 might as well have been a sellout.
“I thought they were messin’ with me when they asked if we wanted to come back and play,” McBryde said. She opened for George Strait last year.
“It’s magical. I don’t know what else to tell you. I’ve got chicken skin.”
McBryde has a big, clear voice that at times recalls Trisha Yearwood. Her songs are gorgeous showcases for it and her personality. This is country music, to be sure, imbued with elements of rock.
“Made for This” boasted driving drums and guitar. “El Dorado” was reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” in its verses. “Livin’ Next to Leroy” recalled a bit of “Sweet Home Alabama.”
A big part of McBryde’s appeal is her ability to move effortlessly from cheeky rabble-rousers (The Chicks-esque “Brenda Put Your Bra On”) to thoughtful life musings (current single “Light On in the Kitchen”). It’s not always easy to pull off in a live setting.
She introduced “Tired of Being Happy” as an “almost cheatin’ song.” She dedicated “Sparrow,” a gorgeous ballad about being away from loved ones, to all the rodeo riders. And breakout single “One Night Standards” is just a great country song.
There were even nods to the Lone Star State. A bit of Tanya Tucker’s “Texas (When I Die).” A closing cover of “The Bluest Eyes in Texas.” Even without them, McBryde’s show was a strong case for a repeat invite.