Girls' night out: The Judds at Wiesbaden
CHARMING. Delightful. Utterly enjoyable. Sounds gushy, but that's the way it was at the concert by the Judds in Wiesbaden Sunday night.
Just as the mother-daughter country duo claimed to be "tickled to death" to be in West Germany, so, too, was the audience thrilled that Nashville's multi-award-winning pair was there. The crowd was small - only 900 people in an auditorium that seats 2,500, the promoter said -- but enthusiastic. A glance around the hall revealed mostly smiling faces.
"They sing so pretty," said Spec. 4 Rene Silva, a recent country convert from Hanau, moments before the performance. "You just can't help but like their songs "
Nor was it possible to keep from rocking to the infectious, catchy beat of the music, a sometimes rollicking, sometimes slow and romantic blend of pop-inflected country, bluegrass and gospel. From the start the audience clapped, cheered, whistled and whooped.
The Judds took full advantage of the crowd's unusual receptiveness. Mother and daughter said clap and the fans clapped. They said sing along and just about everyone did. They said dance, and there was no stopping the mass.
Musically, daughter Wynonna is the dominant figure on stage. By far the more talented of the two, the 24-year-old strums the guitar and sings lead, her fine voice often breaking into sultry, feline growls.
But the focus of attention is on mother Naomi. A former model and still a dazzler at 44, she harmonizes with Wynonna in the choruses, spicing up the vocals with sexy, high-pitched chirps.
Mostly, though, Naomi skips and struts about the stage, enticing the crowd with sugary, Southern-belle charm. Dressed in a frilly, electric-blue party dress with pouffed sleeves, Naomi certainly was a delight to watch Sunday as she kicked up her legs, swiveled her hips, smiled, waved and winked at the crowd and reached down to shake hands with the fans.
"I enjoy watching my Mom, seeing how cool she is," Wynonna told the audience. "But sometimes I don't know who's entertaining who."
Natives of Ashland, Ky., the Judds began singing together at home, just Wynonna, Naomi and a guitar: In 1983 they landed a record deal and began cranking out country hits, including Mama He's Crazy, Girl's Night Out, Turn Me Loose, Why Not Me and Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days).
The pair has received numerous country music awards, among them top vocal group in 1986 and top vocal duet in '87. The Judds tour the United States regularly with a full backup band, including a keyboardist and dobro player.
The Judds' five-city European tour, with stops in the Netherlands, West Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, comes smack in the middle of yet another tour of the United States. The performance in Wiesbaden was their first appearance in Germany.
Over and over on Sunday the Judds told the audience how happy they were to be in Germany and how they never thought they'd be successful enough to perform here. However, the duo's stateside popularity is far from duplicated overseas.
"Country music just doesn't sell as well in Germany," said promoter Rainer Zosel of Wiesbaden, who also stages the annual International Country Music Festival in Germany. He added that the current Fasching celebrations also kept many people out of the hall.
That left a large percentage, nearly half, of American fans in the audience. Unfortunately -- and this is the only gripe about the show -- the duo never acknowledged their presence, though they sure clamored for attention, cheering every time the Judds mentioned Kentucky or Nashville, their place of residence. It would have been nice for Wynonna and Naomi to at least ask the customary, "Are there any Americans out there?'
They would have been blown away by the response for sure.