He's called 'King George' for good reason
 
Amanda St. Amand
 
When the band fired up the opening strains of 'Deep in the Heart of Texas,' the crowd at Scottrade Center roared and rose as George Strait walked toward the stage.

No one was waiting for fireworks or flying stages on Friday night; they only wanted to hear the king of country music for nearly three decades deliver a string of the hits that come in an endless wave from the Texas troubador.

And Strait, looking sharp in his customary pressed Wranglers and a yellow checked western shirt, gave them the goods -- with always superb help from his longstanding Ace in the Hole band.
He opened with his most recent No. 1 hit -- 'Here for a Good Time' -- that's also the only one of his 50-plus No. 1's that he helped write, along with son Bubba. (Who with his wife, Tamara, made Strait a grandpa earlier this month.)

Strait sang from a square stage, singing two songs from one side before moving to the next in a method guaranteed to give everyone a good view.
Much of his hour and 45 minute show was devoted to more recent material like 'River of Love,' 'The Breath You Take,' 'Troubador,' and 'I Saw God Today.' The only nit to pick with a Strait concert is the songs he leaves out, but with a list of hits as long as his it's hard to pick and choose.
But he chose wisely with older numbers like 'I Can Still Make Cheyenne,' 'The Chair,' 'Check Yes or No' and the all-time classic that Strait said was his favorite song he's ever recorded -- 'Amarillo By Morning.' No matter how many times people hear that song live, the mournful fiddle played by Gene Elders sends a chill up the spine.

Strait tours a shorter schedule these days, which seems to pay off onstage as he smirked and laughed with his band often and looked to be enjoying a jam session with the guys.

Anyone who left when he wrapped the main set with 'Unwound' made a huge mistake by not sticking for the four-song encore highlighted by a raucous take on 'Folsom Prison Blues.' Between Elders' fiddle and Ronnie Huckaby's piano magic, that song alone was nearly worth the price of a ticket.

But along with Strait, fans got an hour from Martina McBride - no slouch herself in the hit department.

She thrilled the crowd with a 14-song set that featured some of the new material from her album '11' like 'I'm Gonna Love You Through It' and 'Teenage Daughters' along with hits like 'Independence Day,' 'Wild Angel' and 'Love's the Only House.'

When she got a (much deserved) standing ovation after 'Broken Wing,' McBride teared up and thanked the crowd for such a response.