To country music supergroup Alabama, “farewell does not mean goodbye.” Thus states their commemorative tour book, and, apparently, they take it seriously. This would explain, for instance, why one of my friends went to their Kansas City farewell concert last fall, but last night, I also attended their Kansas City farewell concert. Apparently, “farewell” has less to do with final appearances and more to do with filling seats.
Whether or not the tour appellation is a marketing ploy, the strategy works. A near-capacity crowd filled Sandstone Amphitheatre in Kansas City last night for the latest Alabama farewell appearance. For three hours, their fans sang along with many of the 42 #1 hits and other favorites from the band’s long and storied history.
The main question in this critic’s mind was how a band with over 40 #1 hits and many more crowd favorites even comes close to satisfying everyone. Well, a three-hour concert is a start. The band took an intermission after about an hour and fifteen minutes, then came back to play for about another hour and a half, before exiting and returning for a two-song encore. In the first set, the band mainly cranked out #1 after #1, with little banter or jamming. They even employed a few medleys to cover more ground. It was near the middle of the second set that things began to heat up, as the band began using more segues and cut loose on songs like “Tennessee River,” “You Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band,” and an immensely crowd-pleasing rendition of “Cheap Seats” that thrilled a Kansas City audience in the midst of a pennant race. The band returned for an encore of “She And I” and “My Home’s In Alabama.”
Whatever you think of their marketing strategy, the fact is that it would be sad to say farewell for the last time to a band that’s still playing a heck of a game. The tour book promises more of Alabama in the future, and a few more farewell tours would be welcome opportunities to continue to enjoy this band’s performance.
Bobby Allison-Gallimore loves watching the Kansas City Royals from the cheap seats. He writes at www.therattler.net.