Randy Travis, With K. T. Oslin

Posted: April 29, 1989

The queen and king of contemporary country music took up the throne at the Philadelphia Civic Center last night.

K. T. Oslin and Randy Travis, who have taken home enough honors in recent years to fill the largest of country parlors, gave the near-capacity crowd a lot to cheer about, despite playing through a meager sound system.

Travis, the lanky, lantern-jawed country giant, played a nonstop hit parade of a dozen and a half songs that lasted slightly more than an hour. Perhaps the best indication of how popular Travis is comes when glancing at the country charts, where all three of his albums are still in the top 40.

Last night, the singer mixed in a little from all three, throwing out straightforward versions of "Deeper than the Holler," "Forever and Ever, Amen" and "On the Other Hand."

Particularly nice was a stripped-down version of the deliberate ''Promises" from the most current album, Old 8 x 10. Travis, strumming solo on an acoustic guitar, gave the song a simple yet rich texture.

With his quick success and ability to make women of all ages scream, you'd think Travis would be a picture of confidence. But the singer, who wore tight jeans and an Indian-designed jacket - sorry, no cowboy hat - appeared shy on stage.

He sang into the side of the microphone, staring at the floor or into the upper decks, failng to make eye contact with his audience. Travis finally dragged himself from the microphone to shake hands with stage crashers at the end of the show, during a corny medley that combined "Dixie" and the ''Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Oslin, with a noticeably more confident stage presence, opened the show with 45 minutes of mostly ballads. Oslin - wearing a bright business suit and ridiculous florescent-yellow, elbow-length gloves - jumped right in with "Hey Bobby," currently No. 3 on the country singles charts. Although the moderate tempo favored was an obvious choice for an opener, Oslin suprisingly reached back to her debut album, 80's Lady, for more than half her selections.

Because many of her original ballads did not challenge her wide vocal range, the few that did carried a lot of impact.

On "Hold Me," a sullen classic on the new album This Woman, about a brittle relationship, Oslin goes from powerfully pushing out the words "Don't kiss me like we're married; kiss me like we're lovers" to softly pedaling a delicate falsetto to end the song.

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