Review: Jo Dee Messina Brings Songs and Stories to Long Island

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With an impressive collection of hits, it would be easy for Jo Dee Messina to rely on her classics to engage an audience. Yet, at her October 15 show at Long Island’s Patchogue Theater, the singer was in full-on storyteller mode, holding the intimate crowd in the palm of her hands. During the nearly two-hour show, the country songstress powered through her greatest hits, new material and a few special covers.

Armed with an arsenal of hits and one of the most impressive voices in country music, Messina was a dynamo on-stage, clearly having a ball as she played to the enthusiastic New York audience. While it would be impossible to select only one highlight from the night, one of her finest vocal moments came during a tender performance of “Bring on the Rain.” Before performing, Messina revealed that the single was released on September 10, 2001, and that her label pushed for the video to revolve around the tragedies of September 11. Messina refused and instead recorded a simple and solemn video, leaving the song and the night’s gorgeous performance open to personal interpretation.

Other highlights included her version of the Dottie West classic “Lesson in Leavin’,” the rocking yet deeply personal “Masquerade” and audience favorites like “I’m Alright,” “Stand Beside Me” and “Heads California, Tails California.” The latter was such a hit with the crowd that one audience member requested she perform it again during her encore.

In addition to her voice, Messina’s humorous side was on full display throughout the night, heckling latecomers, chattering with audience members and joking about the fact that she was from Massachusetts, home of the Red Sox, to a New York Yankees crowd. While she showed her fun side, Messina’s vulnerable and spiritual sides were also on full display and some of the show’s most powerful moments came during her faith-based covers of  Plumb’s moving track of desperation “Need You Now” and the bombastic Gospel hit “Break Every Chain.” On both covers, her passion and faith were truly palpable, bringing the audience to their feet.

Messina closed the show with “Bye Bye” before popping back on stage for a non-traditional encore that had her accepting audience questions about everything from her children, her current foray into the role of student and Tim McGraw’s role in her early career. At the request of the audience, she played a bit of “Burn” before bidding the crowd farewell with a fitting cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

From the tone of the night, JoDee Messina showed that she won’t stop believing – in God, her music or her fans – any time soon.

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