ALBANY — Faith Hill and Tim McGraw left no doubt they are indeed soul mates after a two-hour show Saturday night filled with love-song duets and individual hits of their own.
The country music superstars’ “Soul2Soul: The World Tour 2017” came to the Times Union Center, thrilling a near-capacity crowd, many in cowboy boots (two-tone even), sundresses, flannel shirts and cut-off jeans.
This was clearly a must-see show for country fans.
Hill was touring for the first time in a decade, since the couple’s hugely successful “Soul2Soul II” tour. McGraw has performed live on his own many times since. The couple, married 21 years, have been busy raising three daughters.
Before the concert, two loyal fans, Karen Miller of Niskayuna and Kristine Houlihan of Colonie, without hesitation, and in unison, said they were there “for Tim.”
“I saw him over 10 years ago. My friend won front-row tickets,” said Houlihan, who said she admired the fact that “he seems like a good father to his daughters.” She said she was also looking forward to the couple’s duets.
“He seems like a very good person,” echoed Miller, who said her favorite McGraw music is from the recent film “The Shack.”
Opening the evening was Maryland-born singer Maggie Rose, who was known as Margaret Durante early in her career. Her soaring voice filled the arena nicely as fans filed in.
Moments later, the crowd in eager anticipation, Hill and McGraw appeared, rising up from below the stage, facing one another. The crowd roared as they started a string of duets with “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me).”
Early highlights included Hill’s 2006 hit “The Lucky One” and “The Way You Love Me” off her 2000 “Breathe” album — fans singing along — McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” and the moving “Break First,” a new song off their upcoming first duets album.
McGraw departed and Hill took over, singing powerfully in pop-rock fashion and dancing around the stage, her image projected on the huge screen behind the 10-piece band.
“Free,” “This Kiss,” “Breathe” and “Stronger” were crowd favorites, showcasing Hill’s clear vocals and showmanship. Her attempt at “Piece of My Heart,” made famous by Janis Joplin, fell flat, though, and the night’s momentum slowed slightly.
McGraw reappeared and performed a lukewarm version of “Angry All the Time,” but followed with tunes such as “Real Good Man” and a brilliant version of “Shotgun Rider.”
And his best was still to come.
He delivered a heartfelt “Humble & Kind,” his 2015 Grammy-winning song, as fans swayed back and forth, cellphone cameras in hand. He then led fans in an a capella verse of “always be humble and kind,” saying to the crowd, “tell your leaders that.”
It was followed by “Live Like You Were Dying,” the song whose video featured his late father, major league pitcher Tug McGraw. While singing, McGraw spotted a fan wearing a Philadelphia Phillies jersey with “McGraw” across the back. In an emotional moment, he pointed to her and put his hand over his heart.
Hill joined McGraw for four more duets, finishing with an encore of “I Need You” while the couple sat face-to-face on a raised platform and kissed.
The couple did their best to get close to the fans, at one point walking down the aisles to shake hands with them — McGraw hugging and kissing a pair of white-haired women who won’t soon forget that gesture. Hill even got down on her stomach on the edge of the stage to reach out to fans.
A co-star of this show was an innovative stage in the shape of the tour logo, laser lights, trap doors and an 80-foot-wide video screen. If this were an outdoor show, you could have watched this concert in Rensselaer.
They showed photos of their three daughters on the large screen and other images of country life.