Country Music duo The Judds gave an awesome homecoming performance at the KFC YUM! Center on December 3, 2010. They gave their fans everything they wanted and more, including an appearance by Ashley in the audience, although she did not sing.
The video projection behind the Judds was stunning! The colors were vibrant and bright with simple settings such as farm landscape or pictures and newspapers covering the Judds and their family. The backgrounds were a perfect setting as the Judds sang many of their number one hits including Give a Little Love, Change of Heart, Love Is Alive, I Know Where I’m Going, and one I hadn’t heard before: Maybe Your Baby’s Got the Blues. I never realized Wynona was also a talented blues singer. Naomi left the stage for a bit during the first act to “put on her prissy butt dress” as Wynona said. Wynona proceeded to quip “While mother is away, daughter will play” before launching into “No One Else on Earth”. They were very successful in creating an encompassing “be part of the family” atmosphere.
The intermission in the middle of the three hour show started with a flood of people making their way to the outdoor balconies on the back of the YUM! Center for a cigarette break. They were interrupted moments later by police officers clearing them off the balcony while sternly saying “This is a non-smoking facility, everyone back inside!” Angry smokers cracked jokes like “ What are you, the cigarette police?” which elicited the response “We’re also the ‘take your ticket away’ police”. Even once inside again, a woman tried to talk to the police about the policy. The police response to all objections was the same: “If you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t come to the YUM! Center”. The police told the woman to “Walk away or we’ll take you outside”. I thought the balconies were there for the smokers. A lot of people were disappointed that there was not a designated area for smokers: something to keep in mind when planning to attend shows at the Yum! Center.
One of the most breathtaking backgrounds was a stained glass window as the Judds sang “How Great Thou Art” with the group of male background singers in suits during the second act. I felt like I was sitting in a church service. It was beautiful.
Included in the group of supporting male vocalists was Larry Strickland, Naomi’s husband and former supporting vocalist for Elvis. They all sang the Elvis song “Burning Love” in the second act with projected television footage of Elvis in black and white.
The interaction between mother and daughter was endearing, as were Naomi’s costume changes. She still shines so brightly and comes across as playful after so many years of performing. It is no doubt who the queen on the stage is. These women really know how to light up a room and share their family love, but it turns out it is actually possible to steal their spotlight.
Four-year-old Aiden ended up on the stage in the second act. Wynona stopped playing/singing mid-song and looked down at the miniature cowboy in boots and hat to say “What are you doin’ here? Do you know who we are?” The small boy shook his head and said “no” as everyone laughed.
Wynona said, “Well, my name’s Wynona, can you say my name?” “Aiden” came the small reply as Naomi held the mic to his mouth. Wynona was quick to fire back “Well, Aiden, It’s not all about you. It’s about me. Can you say Wynona?” They continued a little more discussion with Aiden before returning to the song.
Although listed online as planned, there wasn’t really any Christmas music in the set list. I can’t say I was disappointed. I enjoyed the setlist. Wynona’s encore really surprised me. The last thing I expected was Ave Maria, but she nailed it. I was very impressed. I found it strange that the merch table was hidden in the back of the Center instead of in the front as people arrived or departed. We had to go searching for the merch table that had an array of their former CD releases, books, t-shirts, pictures, keychains, and posters. Prices ranged from $5 to $50.
One of the things about the Judds experience that impressed me the most was the range of ages in the audience. Children, teens and adults like wore Judd Head t-shirts and sang along. It looks like the Judds are definitely a tradition being passed down from generation to generation. According to online speculation, the Judds have not made a decision on their future beyond the tour despite it being titled “The Final Encore”, so maybe younger generations will continue to be able to enjoy their live performances.