BY M. SCOTT MORRIS
Spontaneous buck dancing erupted during Alabama's rendition of “If You're Gonna Play in Texas É” at the BancorpSouth Center Friday night.
Four women, who declined to give their names, left their $55 seats midway to the stage so they could turn the back of the arena into a dance floor.
As Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook and Mark Herndon of Alabama played hit after hit from their award-winning careers, people strayed into the makeshift dance floor to kick up their heels and yell “Yehaw!”
That was the spirit Owen seemed to be after when he told the crowd of nearly 7,100 “we drove 402 miles to get here last night and I personally didn't come here to see you people sitting on your butts all night long. We came here for one reason: That was to have a party with you people in Tupelo today.”
The crowd roared in agreement.
While a sunset was projected on a screen behind the stage, Alabama played nearly three decades of country music hits, including “Closer You Get,” “Love in the First Degree,” “She Ain't Your Ordinary Girl,” “When it All Goes South” and others.
Chances are that was the last party Alabama will throw around here. The band's “Farewell Tour” began in 2003. It may keep going until 2005, but it probably won't be back to Tupelo.
It was the third or fourth time Nettleton resident Judy Holland, 45, and her husband, John, 46, have seen the band in action, and it was the first time from a pair of $1,000, front-row seats.
“We didn't pay for them,” Holland explained. “I would never buy a ticket that had $1,000 written on hit. Never.”
Friends won the tickets and passed them to the Hollands, who got to meet the band and hang out backstage. The friends will keep the autographed guitars that go with the seats.
“He wants to donate them to his church,” Holland said.
Walker Henry, 46, and Donna Henry, 45, both of Okolona, brought their 7-year-old granddaughter, Hannah, to the show. The tickets were Walker Henry's birthday present, and he had to wait more than two months to enjoy them.
“He got a toolbox, too,” Donna Henry said.
Starr Boatwright, 53, of Tuscumbia, Ala., drove over to the show with family members, but she had someone else on her mind. She was trying to get two teddy bears signed by the band so she could ship them to her husband in Iraq.
“Command Sergeant Major Steve Boatwright is the love of my life,” she proclaimed.
No word on whether the bears were signed, but she seemed determined.
The last Alabama show in Tupelo was the first time Patty Scott, 34, of Belmont, and Josh Clark, 22, of Red Bay, Ala., ever attended a concert.
Concert veteran and Alabama fan Alan Parham, 38, of Belmont treated Scott and Clark to the show.
“This is my aunt,” Clark said, pointing to Scott, then he pointed to Parham, “and that's my homeboy.”
Scott, pointing to Parham, added, “This is my stud.”
“I am,” Parham agreed.
It was that kind of the night.