Barbara Mandrell may sing that she was "country when country wasn't cool," but at the Greek Theatre on Saturday, her real role model didn't seem to be Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn but . . . Wayne Newton. Mandrell's show was so tightly-packaged and self-consciously showy that it rivaled the huff-and-puff antics of Las Vegas' "Midnight Idol."
The problem with this glitzy approach is that it doesn't really fit Mandrell's personality. The Nashville-based performer's vocal style and stage manner are warm and relaxed, though her show is anything but.
Maybe the years of doing a weekly TV variety show left their mark on Mandrell, making her think that if you don't keep the show moving people will get restless and reach for their remote controls. That may be true on TV, but Mandrell should give her concert audiences--and herself--more credit. We won't rush for the exits if she sing songs all the way through, or stands in place for a few minutes, or wears one dress for more than three songs in a row. She might even leave a deeper impression, rather than just a blur.
Mandrell was also scheduled to appear Sunday at the Pacific Amphitheatre.