Hot on the brink of her first album of all new material since What The World Needs Now Is Love, in 2003, Wynonna brought her backing band, The Big Noise, to Northfield, Ohio’s Hard Rock Rocksino! I want to start this article in complete honesty: There is a LOT of Wynonna’s career that I am not familiar with. In the early 90’s, when I was first really listening to country music, I was a 7 year old boy. I had very little interest in female singers. What can I say? I of course remember hearing hits like “No One Else On Earth” and “Tell Me Why,” but by the time I had received my own personal stereo/CD player for Christmas in fifth grade, the charts weren’t being quite as friendly to this incredible vocalist.
Flash forward to last week, here in 2016. By now, I’ve heard a lot more of Wynonna’s work and long understand why she is one of the most important figures in the history of country music. After hearing snippets of Wynonna’s latest album prior to the show, I was pumped to finally experience the true Wynonna in all of her glory. Little did I know that I was not only going to be in awe of her incredible vocal skills as a country artist, but I was about to ROCKED!
Wynonna’s band hit the stage, suited up and ready to jam. I was extra excited, because the show was leading off by a hit that I remembered from my childhood in 1994’s “Rock Bottom.” The Rocksino crowd was immediately whisked away into a Wynonna Wonderland! Everyone was up on their feet, dancing and singing along! Heck, I was right there with them!
Wynonna was excited to be back in the Cleveland area and thanked her fans for coming to see her perform songs from her new album. It can be tough sometimes, when trying to promote an upcoming album to an audience that haven’t yet been exposed to the music. If Wynonna’s fans weren’t so diehard, this could’ve made for a much more challenging evening. Unsurprisingly, the “Judd-Heads” were eating it up!
Beginning her career and touring with her mother, Naomi, Wynonna explained, was the first chapter of her career, followed by her first run as a solo artist, being the second. She was now excited to be diving into the third chapter with The Big Noise. This was no gimmick used in order to sell records. She was showing genuine excitement for the future of her career, which is always nice to see! Wynonna did joke that in making it this far after working so closely with family through her career, that she just might be deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize!
A funny moment that really got me chuckling, following a performance of “Change The World,” Wynonna let everyone know that SHE recorded the song BEFORE Eric Clapton! Ha! Her husband & drummer, “Cactus” Moser (Formerly of Highway 101), mentioned that Clapton did thank her… “He didn’t thank me when he won a Grammy!” That’s right, Wynonna has jokes!
There was a lot of banter throughout the entire show between Wynonna and “Cactus,” making for a much more entertaining show. He had plenty of his own little quips, but his wife was never slow to counter with her own response! Perhaps the funniest moment, was when she was explaining how he had brought a song to her for the new album and she loved it so much, that she decided to dedicate it to him. Shortly after, she found out that HE wrote it! Shortly before heading into the final stretch of her main set, Wynonna mentioned the Front Row Theater in Cleveland, OH, which was her favorite venue to play with her mom in the 80’s. A fan yelled out that it is now a Home Depot and Wynonna lost it!
Wynonna’s main set wrapped up her main set with her 1992 #1 hit, “No One Else On Earth.” Once again, the entire crowd were on their feet, dancing and singing along! At one point, Wynonna left the vocals up to her adoring fans. While I’ve experienced this a few times in big outdoor venues, it always feels a bit more incredible in a smaller theater setting.
When Wynonna returned to the stage for her encore, I expected maybe a song or two, being that she had already been performing for nearly 90 minutes. In what felt like a bonus half hour, Wynonna took us back with “Grampa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ol’ Days),” “Why Not Me,” and four more performances! It was almost as if we were given a second show!
As stated before, I went into Wynonna’s concert, not really knowing what to expect. While I had appreciated and respected her previous career, there was no way that I could’ve been prepared for what I would experience at the Hard Rock Rocksino last Thursday night. More strong women, with an incredibly powerful voice, is what country radio is very much lacking these days. Will Wynonna take back the throne that may very rightfully be her’s? Only time will tell.