Here are five reasons to get you giddy over the fact that the Dixie Chicks are finally back in the saddle.
1. They're Still Taking Stands
Considering Maines' polarizing comment regarding President George W. Bush in 2003, when she declared she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," it wasn't a shock that the band took on prospective Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during this show.
No, the willful frontwoman didn't say his name once -- she didn't have to. Instead, a giant photo of Trump, showcased on a video screen behind the band, was defaced with bad facial hair and devil horns. Earlier, pre-show ads featuring Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign and Proclaim Justice, which advocates for innocent prisoners, let the female-heavy audience know that the country progressives are still standing up for what they believe in.
2. These Country Queens Go NYC Chic
Goodbye Earl! Also, goodbye stonewash denim and bandana crop tops. The styling for the Chicks' new tour took a fashion note from their 2006 release, Taking the Long Way, the Rick Rubin-produced album demonstrating that their boundless talent isn't confined to country, both musically and aesthetically.
Now more Vogue than Country Weekly, Maines, 41, along with sisters Emily Robison, 43, and Martie Maguire, 46, donned chic black-and-white ensembles that had them looking ready to hop in a limo for a night out in New York City. Even their instruments -- Strayer on banjo, Maguire on fiddle, Maines on guitar -- were thoughtfully styled, jibing nicely with the stage's minimalist and de-countrified color scheme.
3. Watch Out for 'Nothing Compares 2 U,' Plus Other Covers
Add the Dixie Chicks to the endless list of artists who've tipped their hat to the late Prince. But, as the crowd took in every glorious note of their touching tribute, with Maines' soaring voice tugging at the heartstrings of all those who sat in total awe, one thing was clear: This rendition ranks among the best. No surprise -- the Chicks are known for nailing covers, many of which they wove into the show's setlist.
They also covered Beyoncé's "Daddy Lessons." Why? Because, Maines joked, "I think she wrote it for us -- she just doesn't know it." During "Landslide," which garnered the group crossover appeal when the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 2002, the singer got nostalgic, noting that she first sang the Stevie Nicks classic in her 20s. Maines said she's recently realized one very real thing about aging: It becomes "more and more and more and more true."
4. They're Still Political, Still Unapologetic
Who's Maines voting for during the November election? Who knows? In fact, that was the point of "Ready to Run" -- to keep you guessing. The song took an equivocal approach to politics, flashing the crazed faces of Hillary Clinton, Trump, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz during a circus motif as they performed the raucous sing-along in front of both Democrats and Republicans, portraying them as bobbleheads.
The encore was more forthright. Written as a response to the Bush blowback, "Not Ready to Make Nice" closed out their riveting reunion show as the first of two encore songs. "It turned my whole world around," Maines sang, a cunning smirk crossing her face, "and I kind of like it." It was clear the sold-out crowd did too -- they roared all the way into the next song. A song with "positive vibes," Maines noted, as she launched into Ben Harper's optimistic "Better Way," suggesting that, though the Chicks still aren't necessarily making nice, they've moved on.
5. They (Eventually) Honored Their Roots
Maines appeared defiant when she first stepped out onto the stage, flanked by Maguire and Strayer, as if they'd just risen from the hell fires of ultraconservative scorning. Lighting tricks cast a silhouette -- perhaps to represent the shadow of who they once were? It's possible. They didn't perform a true country tune until well into the two-hour, 25-song show, as Taking the Long Way took precedence until the inclusion of rootsy, crowd-pleaser, "Long Time Gone," an appropriate transition into the Chicks' pre-Bush-slam country catalog. Among the hits were "Goodbye Earl," "Travelin' Soldier," "Cowboy Take Me Away," "Wide Open Spaces" and "Sin Wagon." Sure, they got political, but no, they haven't forgotten why they were so beloved in the first place -- and neither did we.