Magic was indeed floating in the air as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill performed together Friday night in Fresno.
As Hill sang, “Just Breathe” – “I can feel the magic floating in the air, being with you gets me that way” – at least one fan in the packed Save Mart Center enthusiastically responded, “Yeah!” And later, as the song continued – “Isn’t that the way love’s supposed to be?” – the fan answered, “Yeah it is!”
The country music superstars have a way of generating this kind of excited optimism. From the moment they came on stage, to the long kiss they shared in front of thousands, to their exit, hand in hand, the audience couldn’t get enough of their love. That’s even with McGraw admitting he “toned down” his sexy “Real Good Man” performance since his 19-year-old daughter was in the audience.
“I know I’m gonna get, ‘Dad, you embarrassed the hell out of me tonight.’ ” McGraw said with a smile. “But it’s paying for a good education.”
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McGraw and Hill put on an upbeat and inspirational show, one that kept most of the audience on their feet throughout the night singing, dancing and clapping along to a couple dozen old and new songs split between those they sang together and their individual hits. McGraw and Hill continue to sound and look much like they did decades ago – still gorgeous voices and people. After their powerhouse performance of “Like We Never Loved At All,” an intense song that soars with high notes, I just wrote “WOW” in my notebook and “impressive” tumbled out of my gaping mouth.
Their dynamic performances were backed up by a robust band – six guitarists made Hill’s “Wild One” performance even wilder – but their voices can stand on their own. A couple times during the night, McGraw proved that by singing several stanzas without instruments and with the house lights on, encouraging the crowd he could easily see to join him.
The pair came to Fresno as part of their Soul2Soul The World Tour 2017, which might have been better named The Universe Tour. The lighting for much of the show was futuristic and galactic, with lasers, backdrops of stars, bunches of hanging spotlights, and lots of blue.
Never mind that Hill may not know where in the world Glasgow is. McGraw mentioned it as a place they’ll be touring overseas, and reminded Hill that it’s in Scotland. Hey, Hill knows where Fresno is situated. That’s what really counts.
She told the packed house that Fresno would be a good word to put in a song – “good consonants in there, Fresno” – and when she sang “The Lucky One,” she paused to tell the crowd, “you’re an inspiration” because everyone she looked at in the audience smiled back at her.
The singers also used their show to deliver some messages. Hill dedicated one song to all “the ladies in the house,” telling them, “Don’t ever give up on your dreams,” and started another by yelling, “No more bullies!” and encouraging people to “Be yourself.” After “Speak to a Girl,” a song about how girls and women should be treated, McGraw told all the young men in the audience to “Pay attention to the lyrics in that song, and young ladies, expect it every single time.”
Some of the most moving moments came during “Humble And Kind,” accompanied by photos of people of different races and ages on a large screen, “Live Like You Were Dying,” “It’s Your Love,” and “I Need You.” The couple ended with that final song, singing face-to-face on a platform rising into the air and surrounded by swirling lights.
As the Save Mart Center emptied after the concert, I heard someone say, “It’s like they have this fairytale romance that everybody wants. It’s pretty cool.”
Yeah, it is.
May McGraw and Hill keep spreading their inspirational love around the world.