Jennifer Nettles brought her Playing With Fire Tour to Dallas, with strong opening acts Ryan Kinder and Brandy Clark.

Up-and-comer Ryan Kinder started the night with a set showcasing a soulful voice and a look that pleased the women. Look for him to be a star. Brandy Clark is a terrific songwriter who has developed an expressive voice, as evidenced by “Mama’s Broken Heart,” a song she co-wrote and made into a hit by Miranda Lambert. Her writing credits also include songs by Sheryl Crow, Darius Rucker, LeAnn Rimes, Reba McEntire and Toby Keith.

Jennifer Nettles captured the sold-out crowd with her beautiful voice before the curtain rose, then entered looking incredibly fit after her Broadway run as Roxie Hart in Chicago. The Sugarland veteran arrived straight from Dressed from a premier in Los Angeles. She was dressed shabby chic but still full of energy; the fans immediately knew it was going to be a special night.

Beginning with “Playing With Fire,” Nettles commandeered the stage with her voice, dancing, gestures, and overall pure enjoyment of getting to do what she loves for a living. It rose a notch as everyone sang “Baby Girl” along with her. The fun was just beginning, though, as several groups of women were taking off work on Friday and making this Ladies Night, and Nettles obliged them with “Drunk In Heels.” She said this song was, “For the ladies,” but her stage presence made it for everyone.

Nettles continued to display her soulful, country voice with songs from Sugarland, songs from That Girl, her current solo album, and songs from Playing With Fire, set to release in Mar 2016. These included utilizing her vocal range on ballads, soul, and a country rap and her musical talents on lead guitar, acoustic guitar, and tickling the ivories on the piano.

Nettles connected with the crowd when she spoke of the “realness” of the country music genre and proved that as the lyrics reflected on falling in love, falling out of love, and even revenge sex in “Three Days In Bed.” She also had a mini-reunion with members of the crowd when she called out several elementary school friends from Georgia who had come to see her perform.

Another highlight was “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” a number one hit duet with Bon Jovi. The audience loved her interpretation of several cover songs, including “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (performed with Brandy Clark), and the show-ender and show-stopper “Leather And Lace,” by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley, which she sang with Ryan Kinder.

Nettles captivated the audience for every minute of her 20-song set with a stage presence matched by few in the business. She surrounded herself with Sugarland mainstays, Annie Clements on bass guitar, Scott Patton on lead guitar, and Andy Keenan on rhythm and acoustic/steel guitar. She obviously enjoys playing and entertaining and loves interacting with the crowd.

This author has been a fan for many years but is now hooked after seeing her perform live. A talent like Jennifer Nettles should be nominated for Entertainer of the Year. She certainly was to us!

Jennifer Nettles
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Ryan Kinder
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Brandy Clark
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House of Blues Dallas
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