"It's good to be back home in Texas!" Miranda Lambert told the crowd shortly after taking the stage in her RodeoHouston performance Wednesday night.
After a shaky start, in which Lambert fiddled with her earpieces and stuck close to the microphone, the Texas girl (raised in tiny Lindale) hit her stride with "Only Prettier" and "Famous in a Small Town," fun songs that capitalized on the rowdy spirit of the femme-heavy crowd.
Switching into a ballad like "Dead Flowers," Lambert was every bit the polished performer, working with the limited visual effects offered by the rodeo, and giving just enough movement for people watching her from the lower levels and always a pretty, focused face for the big screens.
It reminded us a little of the girl who first made it on Nashville Star. Where fellow reality television grad Kelly Clarkson might take tabloid jabs for not being appropriately emaciated for pop, Lambert is still every bit the stunning girl next door, even in a sequined black miniskirt and a leather hooded vest, with her natural beauty, arms-wide-open spins and high-heeled boots stomping out the beat.
Lambert took a pause to thank her fans, talking about her start at 17 playing bars including Houston's Firehouse Saloon.
"I think there were about seven people there at that first concet," said Lambert, sounding genuinely moved. "I've gone from seven to 73,738 here tonight."
The crowd got pretty much everything it could ask from a Miranda Lambert concert, with most of her hits, including her latest single "Heart Like Mine," as well as "Gunpowder & Lead," "The House That Built Me," (during which the lit screens showed pictures of Lambert as a child) and the sing-along-inducing "White Liar."
Lambert's lengthy set also made time for a cover of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll," and true to that rock star attitude she seemed to have the most fun on stage when her band mates joined her upfront for solos or just jamming, with Lambert occasionally foisting her hot pink guitar over her head while strumming.
Lambert might not be RodeoHouston's biggest star, but she's proven she knows how to put on a good show, playing to her strengths, satisfying her fans and having a good time while doing it.
No, forget that — it was a great show.