Concert Review: Crowder Hall, University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ 3/13/98

Submitted by Tom Jackson

The concert was fabulous. It exceeded my expectations, which were high. She is truly a transcendent performer. I went with a friend of mine and both of my boys (ages 8 and 11).

I can’t say enough about the feeling that she puts into her performance. It actually seems all the more remarkable considering how shy she seems to be. There’s a line from a song that seems to apply to her: “trying to sing what I can’t say”. She didn’t talk at all for several songs, then admitted that it took her a while before she felt comfortable talking to the audience. Yet, unlike some stage shy singers whose fear translates into a wooden performance, she pours all her soul into each song.

I had no idea how close our seats were going to be from the stage. We were on the front row and she was only about 8 feet away from us. It was actually a bit discomfiting at times to be that close. I felt like I was invading her personal space. But it did give me a thrill to be able to see every expression and move during the songs.

She sang for two hours w/o a break, doing 24 songs (I included a list below). The show was sold out (300 seat auditorium). The audience clearly loved her music. There was one overly enthusiastic (and perhaps intoxicated) guy about ten rows back who kept shouting out encouragement. She handled him charmingly, thanking him for carrying on a conversation with her. He kind of calmed down after that. My boys enjoyed the show a lot, but as kids will, they took the quality of the show for granted in a way that my friend and I didn’t.  We were raving about the performances of our favorite songs. The kids just seemed to have a good time. My youngest boy was actually falling asleep by the end of the show. It was a bit past his bedtime. Plus, the kids usually listen to a few of her songs each night before going to sleep, so they kind of associate the music with drifting off. Not me though. Generous though the concert was, I could have listened to her all night. After seeing this concert, I’m convinced she has the sweetest and purest voice I’ve heard. (I know, enough raving already). Actually I could write on and on about every song she sang. There were only two that I hadn’t heard: John Prine’s “Mexican Home,” the melody of which she reworked completely, and “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted to this World,” which I assume is a standard. I think I may have heard it by Pete Seeger or someone before. I sure hope she comes back to town again sometime. I’m not sure what brought her to Tucson. She doesn’t seem to be doing a tour and talked as if she was heading back home. Here are the concert details:

Iris DeMent – March 13, 1998 Crowder Hall, University of Arizona


1. The Way I Should
2. These Hills
3. Sweet Is the Melody
4. You’ve Done Nothing Wrong
5. This Kind of Happy
6. I’ll Take My Sorrow Straight
7. Walkin’ Home
8. Fifty Miles of Elbow Room
9. Sweet Forgiveness
10. Hotter than Mojave in my Heart
11. Easy’s Gettin’ Harder Every Day
12. Let the Mystery Be
13. Letter to Mom
14. When My Mornin’ Comes Around
15. Keep Me God
16. Mexican Home (John Prine)
17. Calling for You
18. No Time to Cry
19. Mama’s Opry
20. I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted to this World
21. Wasteland of the Free
22. Our Town
23. Infamous Angel
24. My Life