Reba McEntire makes triumphant headlining debut at Madison Square Garden

The Music Universe exclusively reports that the concert was professionally recorded

Two songs into the night on Saturday (Apr 15th), Reba McEntire seemed to choke up as she soaked in the adoration of her fans in the Big Apple on the final night of her Reba Live in Concert tour. The mononymous redhead went on to explain that her family has a storied history of rodeoing at the Garden, going back close to 100 years.

Reba continued the tradition, making her debut at The World’s Most Famous Arena nearly five decades into a storied career. She has received every honor that can be bestowed on an artist, from multiple Grammy Awards to induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But up till now, she had not headlined the storied New York City venue.

But that milestone comes with some impressive statistics: Reba is the only country artist and one of five women to headline a solo show at the Garden four decades into their career. The other four women include Madonna, Cher, Diana Ross, and Liza Minelli. Some fine company to keep, for sure.

The night was packed with about 30 songs, from Reba’s biggest hits to gospel music and even a Linda Ronstadt medley with show openers The Isaacs and Terri Clark, respectively. The most poignant moment of the night came when Reba sang “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” which brought sentimental tears to the eyes of 15,000 in a city often known for its hurried cynicism.

Another highlight was the arrangement of “Is There Life Out There,” which featured The Isaacs on harmonies. It was an arrangement that delivered both thrills and chills with the pacing and vocal perfection blending together exceptionally well. Main set closer “Take it Back/Why Haven’t I Heard From You” has been a live staple that has recently been immortalized as a studio recording in Reba’s Revised, Remixed, Revisited release.

In fact the RRR studio recordings are to date the only offering of Reba’s “live” arrangements currently available to fans. But that might be changing. As The Music Universe Editor in Chief Buddy Iahn reported in real-time via Twitter, a crew was seen professionally filming the historic Garden concert. While we are currently unable to confirm what will be done with the recording, we have reached out to Reba’s team to inquire.

The night at the Garden was absolutely triumphant. Reba put on an incredible show featuring an 8K screen that added depth to the stage. There were the requisite costume changes from one glittery top to the next, and of course a stellar band. The band featured on Bob Wills-inspired “Oklahoma Swing,” which included a larger-than-life screen appearance by Brooks & Dunn. Her band seems to breathe country music in all styles. They mastered her 90’s hits (“Whoever’s in New England,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,”) as well as the rock-edged numbers that have defined her career in the 2000’s (“Turn On Your Radio,” “Going Out Like That”)

New York has a reputation for being the exact opposite of the typical country music audience. But then again, Reba has never appealed to that audience alone. Filled with gays that love the camp of “Fancy,” families that relate to “I’m a Survivor,” and 90’s country fanatics. Love of country music is universal because it is storytelling at its finest. And as Reba made her too-long-in-coming debut at Madison Square Garden to a crowd that often drowned her out, one thing was clear: There is life out there, and Reba’s fans were living their very best.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.