On tour in the United States for the first time in 10 years, the Dixie Chicks came out on The Hollywood Bowl stage, instruments blazing. The trio, comprising sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer, alongside lead singer Natalie Maines, were playing the last stop of their 70-show world tour. “Even when you’re old ladies, you can do 70 shows,” joked Ms. Maines, receiving massive applause.

As a long-time Dixie Chicks fan, I was slightly nervous, wondering how the 13 time GRAMMY-winning powerhouse would perform after such a long time away from the mainstream music market. Well, being the fan I claim to be, I should have already known the answer: with enviable ease. Playing their instruments as if extensions of their own bodies, the women were all smiles as their familiar — and still perfectly blended — harmonies reverberated around the venue.

“We are the Dixie Chicks, and we are going to attempt to entertain you,” announced Maines. And entertain they did. Despite the 2003 George W. Bush debacle that got them banned from a lot of country radio, the Chicks did not shy away from making politically motivated statements throughout the night. Maines amusingly remarked, “When I first joined the band 20 years ago, Martie told me that you could say anything if you say it with a smile. It was about 10 years later when we found out that was bullshit.”

During “Ready to Run,” the video screen in the background showed goofy animated images of 2016’s Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, ranging from arm-flailing Chris Christie and Ted Cruz to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duking it out with boxing gloves.

Another political comment met with wild applause from the audience came during the song “Goodbye Earl,” a well-loved comedic narrative about two best friends who partner up to kill an abusive husband. The projection screen behind the band played a photo montage of historic criminals, and among them was a photograph of Donald Trump with a scribbled on mustache, goatee, and devil horns appearing for a split second.

The crowd, warmed up by the brilliant Elle King, was on their feet for the majority of the concert and belted along to hits such as “Cowboy Take Me Away,” “Wide Open Spaces,” and “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Added into the set were six covers, including Beyoncé’s “Daddy’s Girl” and Ben Harper’s “Better Way,” the latter of which served as the final encore number.

I was especially impressed by the set design. For the first half of the concert, the women were dressed in black and white, standing on a black stage, toting crisp white instruments — Maines with a white guitar, Maguire with a white fiddle, and Strayer playing a white banjo. It was simple and sleek, keeping the focus on the long-loved music.

The women used a video interlude to run off stage for a quick change — their first ever tour with a costume change, according to Maines — and to allow for a simultaneous set change. “Before we were in black and white, and now we’re in white and black!” smiled Maines, in a not-so-different get-up than the one she previously wore.

The new layout resulted in most of the stage being blocked off by a white screen, except for the lip. The intimate design, in an otherwise large arena, provided a more back-porch, country feel. It was equipped with wooden blocks to sit on, a host of instruments (including a lap steel guitar and tin barrel drums), and a chuckle-inducing cardboard cut out of Flat Ronnie.

The freshly outfitted Chicks sat single file for a tear-jerking rendition of “Travelin’ Soldier” before being re-joined by the rest of the band.

The show, while musically phenomenal, wasn’t without its quirks. A construction costume-wearing Elle King accompanied the trio on “Landslide” while semi-interpretively dancing. Though it did slightly detract from the fan-favorite song, at one point Ms. King forgot some words and hilariously ad libbed two lines, drawing laughs from the audience.

In addition to King’s costume, a creepy pair of black and white clowns appeared on stage during a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi” and hung around while a black and white cake was carted on stage in honor of Ms. Maines’ and Ms. Maguire’s birthdays this week. Maines thankfully had an explanation for the oddities: “The bonus you get for being the last show on the tour is a bunch of nonsense that means nothing to you. But it means something to us. And tonight’s about us.”

And indeed it was. If there is anything more enjoyable than attending a great concert, it is attending a great concert on a tour’s last night. The trio and their accompanying musicians were having so much fun, carefree and enjoying every moment of the music they were so skillfully playing.

As Natalie Maines put it, “Hopefully it won’t be another 10 years until we see you again.”

Full Set list from the Dixie Chicks concert at the Hollywood Bowl:

1) The Long Way Around
2) Lubbock or Leave It
3) Truth No. 2
4) Easy Silence
5) Some Days You Gotta Dance
6) Long Time Gone
7) Video Games (Lana Del Rey cover, with guest appearance by Charlotte Lawrence)
8) Top of the World
9) Goodbye Earl
10) Video Interlude: Ace of Spades (Motörhead cover)
11) Travelin’ Soldier
12) Don’t Let Me Die in Florida (Patty Griffin cover)
13) Daddy Lessons (Beyoncé cover)
14) White Trash Wedding
15) Instrumental Bluegrass Medley
16) Ready to Run
17) Mississippi (Bob Dylan cover)
18) Landslide (originally sung by Fleetwood Mac)
19) Cowboy Take Me Away
20) Wide Open Spaces
21) Sin Wagon

Encore:
1) Not Ready to Make Nice
2) Better Way (Ben Harper cover)

For more info:

Dixie Chicks