In his leather pants, black shirt and big, black cowboy hat, country star Tim McGraw looked about as generic as a modern product of the Nashville assembly line could look on Saturday at the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion in Devore. His fast-paced performance was heavy on the hits and thrilled the fans, but it was the second-billed Dixie Chicks who provided most of the evening's real fire.
McGraw's appearance perfectly matched his underwhelming stage presence and anonymous singing. For a song stylist who doesn't perform his own material, the Louisiana native's thin, sometimes nasal voice wasn't much more distinguished than those of many of the average guys in the audience who sang along all night.
Accessibility is part of the reason listeners respond to the 32-year-old singer, whose 90-minute set included compositions by George Strait and Steve Miller. McGraw has been praised for his ability to select good material--a.k.a. hits, which he's racked up in double digits over a seven-year recording career--and his show certainly focused on such popular themes as heartbreak, romance, drinking and dream-chasing.
Yet his eight-piece band provided nothing more than competent accompaniment, and clever turns of phrase came only occasionally, as in "Something Like That," a breezy recollection of young love from his current album, "A Place in the Sun." Much more often, songs such as "Don't Take the Girl" and his current pop hit "Please Remember Me" were steeped in cliched ideas and words, not to mention the sort of cloying sentiment that is a staple of country music.