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Lambert brings the

Performing for a sold-out crowd at the John Paul Jones Arena last Friday, Miranda Lambert set the stage on fire. Featuring fantastic moments from Lambert and her tour partners Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann, the Charlottesville stop on Lambert's On Fire tour certainly lived up to its name.

Lambert picked a perfect set-list for the show, beginning with her current hits and easing into some older favorites. While some musicians craft personas when they perform,

Lambert warned her audience at the start of the show that she was who she was, and she refused to hide her true self. She proved it song after song, stripping herself of her "star" persona and letting the crowd know her true self. By the end of the night, everyone in JPJ felt like Lambert was a close friend.

Lambert prefaced most of her songs by revealing her inspiration for each number, and the sincerity with which she sang them made the audience love the songs even more.

The country star's stellar stage presence had the packed audience on its feet and in tears when she belted out a tribute to Aretha Franklin.

When Young and Niemann joined her on stage for her second encore of the night, this wave of emotion continued. The three performers offered up incredible chemistry, both as musicians and as friends.

What made the concert most memorable, however, was the close connection Lambert created between herself and the concert-goers. When she spoke to the crowd at the beginning of the show about the recent death of her childhood friend Mark "Tex" Adams, the audience did its best to hold back tears. Lambert's rendition of "Over You," a song she wrote with husband Blake Shelton, fittingly ended with a dedication to Adams.

Lambert opened up again when she sang "The House That Built Me," during which she turned her microphone toward the crowd and motioned for them to sing as she choked up, recovering only to continue the rest of the performance.

I have always loved Lambert, but hearing her songs live made me appreciate her music even more. When Lambert cried as the audience sang along to "The House That Built Me," thousands of people came together for a brief moment. It's these special connections which make live shows worthwhile. I cried, I laughed, I lost my voice.


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