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Tanya Tucker pleases fans but didn't thrill

FORT WORTH — Was Tanya Tucker created for Billy Bob's, or was it the other way around?

Little matter. The country star and the honky-tonk were made for each other — a point that was proven again with Tucker's carefully plotted concert there Saturday night.

Tucker, who is enjoying her last year of being younger than 50, strutted and posed her way through a thoroughly choreographed performance before a highly enthusiastic crowd that filled most of the bar's seating area.

Tucker's voice still has the distinctive rasp and sass that has long been her trademark, and she is still effective with both rockers (Some Kind of Trouble) and ballads (Would You Lay with Me in a Field of Stone). And her 85-minute show was seamless, almost to a fault.

While the practiced precision of the set was largely a strength, many of Tucker's stage moves seemed a bit too planned and mannered. There were several times when she came across like Elvis in concert — late Elvis in Vegas, not early Elvis on the Louisiana Hayride, unfortunately. The comparison was reinforced by her unexpected cover of the King's In the Ghetto.

Her set was also a bit too predictable. It followed almost exactly the set she recorded for her 2005 DVD, Tanya Tucker Live at Billy Bob's Texas.

But Tucker did earn some points by honoring country music's past with covers of songs made famous by George Jones (Window Up Above) and Charley Pride (Is Anybody Going to San Antone?).

And she did not stay completely locked into her planned set. When Lizzie and the Rainman appeared to be killing the show, Tucker abruptly told her 6-piece band, "That's enough of that one," and then regained the crowd's attention by shifting into Brown Eyed Handsome Man.

The hit that made a 13-year-old Tucker famous, Delta Dawn, was saved for the final number, where it received a beautifully harmonized treatment. There was no encore and no Texas When I Die.

So it was not an overly generous show and there weren't very many surprises. But, overall, the concert was designed to please her loyal fans and it certainly seemed to succeed on that front.

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