Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are the first couple of country, a modern-day George Jones and Tammy Wynette (minus the whole hard-drinking and divorcing thing).
They've been together over 20 years (basically an impossible feat in celebrity land), raised three daughters, and built incredibly successful careers along the way. And when they're onstage, they're half consummate performers and half your dorky parents at a party. And, yes, that's a good thing.
Tim and Faith did two shows in St. Paul on their Soul2Soul tour, and Friday night’s show was packed. Like, no empty seats packed, even though Faith hasn’t had a solo Top 10 country hit in a decade. She doesn’t need new hits – Tim and Faith have been super-famous basically nationwide for a quarter century, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. (You know how people buy concert tees at the show and put them on immediately? There were lots of those at Friday’s show.)
Faith has kept a lower profile recently than Tim, raising their daughters while letting him star in the incredible movie Country Strong. (And a few others, because all country singers like to act.) She was probably more famous when they married in 1996 – women still got equal play on ‘90s country radio (times sure have changed, and Faith seems to know it) and her hits, like “Wild One” and “This Kiss,” were some of the most popular. They still sound great today.
Tim and Faith opened the show together with a cover of the Aretha Franklin/George Michael duet “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me,” with Faith in a sparkly navy dress and matching sparkly flats and Tim in his trademark black cowboy hat and very, very, very tight pants. Tim slimmed down and shaped up, complete with a perma-tan, a few years ago, guaranteeing his “daddy” status. He tends to strike poses and preen on stage a bit, while Faith is the coolest mom at the party, dancing around the stage in a charming if not exactly practiced fashion.
She can also belt shit out. I underestimated her vocal prowess, which she demonstrated a few times during her solo set, even adding a snippet of Beyoncé’s “Freedom” during her song “Free.” (If you saw Bey performing with the Dixie Chicks at the CMAs, you’ll know that Faith’s a fan. She was getting down the whole time.) Faith’s solo set included her hits “This Kiss” and “Piece of My Heart,” though it lost a little steam during her lesser-known songs. But her sheer energy and charm kept the crowd mostly interested, and if she ever reveals what highlighter she wears, I want to be the first to know.
Tim dipped his toe into the bro-country shitstorm a few years back but mostly came out unscathed due to some seriously good “real” county singles like “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” and the Grammy-winning “Humble and Kind” (which I find a bit schlocky). He has too much star power for a few misguided singles (hello, “Truck Yeah!”) to ruin his legacy, though his solo turn onstage didn’t really showcase it. We got an a cappella snippet of “Purple Rain,” a smart if cliché choice, and a sweet acoustic riff on “Where the Green Grass Grows,” but Tim’s classic ‘90s hits were MIA at the show. Honestly, though I love Faith Hill, the show would have been more engaging with more Tim, since his hits are more upbeat than her ballads. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have this tour balance on lock.
But I get it! He wants to play the new stuff in his allotted time. And Tim hasn’t fallen into country radio irrelevance like some of his contemporaries because he isn’t afraid to take a chance, which usually works to his advantage. He’s modernized with the times without losing his good ol’ boy charm; he even plays the “wise elder” on Florida Georgia Line’s quite good single “May We All,” a role that has been played in country radio for years and years. (Alan Jackson did it on Zac Brown Band’s “As She’s Walking Away,” for example.) Tim McGraw isn’t the young buck anymore, but he still wants to hang. Lucky for him, he gets material good enough to do so.
Tim ran through “One of Those Nights,” the least catchy song in his repertoire, and “Live Like You Were Dying” before rejoining Faith for their ‘90s duet “It’s Your Love.” Then each performed a song while walking through the crowd; Faith sang her song “Mississippi Girl” to a bunch of Minnesota girls, and Tim played the classic “Somethin’ Like That,” which just so happened to feel right since it references a love story at a fair. They closed the show with “I Need You,” and retreated into their love story.
Please never divorce, Tim and Faith.
Critic’s bias: Didn’t grow up with Tim McGraw, but love him now. The Spotify “This is: Tim McGraw” is a good place to start if you want a primer.
Random notebook dump: His career trajectory would’ve been a whole lot different if his name had been Tom McGraw, wouldn’t it?
Overheard in the crowd: “I’ll take 12 tequila shots, please.” (Followed by lots of screaming.)
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (Aretha Franklin/George Michael cover)
Felt Good on My Lips
The Lucky One
I Like It, I Love It
The Way You Love Me
Like We Never Loved At All
Piece of My Heart (Erma Franklin cover)
Angry All the Time
One of Those Nights
Real Good Man
Where the Green Grass Grows
Humble & Kind
Live Like You Were Dying
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
Speak to a Girl
It's Your Love
Something Like That
I Need You