Tritt Show Disjointed, But Stuart's Hits Target Hard-To-Reach Crowd

This review appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader - May 23, 1992

Sometimes country music just doesn't know when to leave well enough alone. Take last night's double bill of Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart at Rupp Arena. Here was a chance for two hotshots to show off their electric updates on traditional Nashville themes.

The show--billed as part of the "No Hats Tour"--seemed designed as a timeout from the onslaught of new traditionalism that dominates today's country market. Well, maybe there weren't any hats to be found on the Rupp stage last night, but just about everything else was tossed in the ring.

Stuart's 50-minute opening set seemed to go after the same sentiments that Tritt's show did--namely the rock 'n' roll conscience of the Rupp crowd of 7,000. The difference was Stuart hit his target much quicker and harder. Though largely thought of as a rockabilly artist, Stuart used the electric charge of a spunky quartet to reach and win the crowd's very willing rock sensibilities.

Opening with Neil Young's "Get Back To The Country," Stuart maintained a modern musical profile that alternately recalled Hank Williams ("Half A Heart"), Buddy Holly ("Tempted") and Elvis Presley ("Western Girls").

There were many other nuggets unearthed in Stuart's brief set, including a second Young rocker ("Are You Ready For the Country?"); a burst of pure rockabilly fire that allowed Stuart's keen abilities as a guitar soloist ("Burn Me Down"); and an update of a country classic that merged his big beat thunder with a hearty dose of swing ("One Woman Man").

If "No Hats" means sure-footed electric music that pays respect to Nashville tradition without giving it undue lip service--which seemed to be the case at last night's show--then count Stuart the winner by a country mile.

Review by Walter Tunis

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