Tritt, Stuart Deliver Good, Long, Show Of Strong Voices

This appeared in The Tennessean - September 29, 1996

The best moment in the Travis Tritt/Marty Stuart Double Trouble show Friday night came when the two singers doubled up, but weren't offering trouble.

Instead of an intermission between their individual sets, the pair saddled up to stools with guitars while the roadies changed the stage behind a black curtain. They ran through four songs, reaching a peak with back-to-back ballads that demonstrated the differing approaches each vocalist takes. Stuart's Shelter From The Storm was a tender, understated rendering, perfect for his ordinary-but-believable voice. Tritt followed with a dynamic take on Anymore, effecting a soulful wail that's become something of a trademark.

The two actually doubled up at the beginning and end of the show as well, offering some fun-loving interplay, but none of it matched the effectiveness of those quieter moments.

Each served up a full solo show as well for the nearly 7,000 fans at Starwood Amphitheatre, with Tritt coming off a little more relaxed than in the past. That's not to say he was laid back, but the once brash and cocky performer who previously seemed like he needed to prove his mettle, exhibited a less in-your-face-confidence as if he needed no one's approval. It's a result, no doubt, of an engagement which he says has made him more comfortable.

But it also made him more real. The man who once blasted Billy Ray Cyrus and last year lashed out at the Country Music Association at Starwood kept most of his chatter short and to the point, letting the material speak for itself. There was still plenty of rock-tinged material--particularly the opening Put Some Drive In Your Country and T-R-O-U-B-L-E--though the addition of a bevy of songs from his latest album, Restless Kind, lent more of a mainstream country attitude than past Tritt concerts.

Stuart filled most of his 12-song set with hillbilly rock: the pulsing Tempted, the La Grange-derived Kiss Me, I'm Gone and the slapping backbeat on the three-chord Rocket Ship.

Stuart loaded up on the rhinestones and sequins and threw in purposely silly hand gestures and circular dances, but they hide a deceptively simple musical approach. He's a veritable riff factory, with most of his songs--and many of his solos--built on short guitar figures that are repeated and stretched to form thumping three-minute musical statements. And it works.

With three acts (Paul Brandt opened), the show began to run long by the end of Tritt's set, and a number of fans left after he completed 15 of his 17 solo pieces. By trimming about three tunes out of his set list, they could have turned an OK show into a pretty good one.

By Tom Roland

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