Skates On The Case: Shelton’s Ten Times Crazier Tour

blake shelton tourAlmost a year since Blake Shelton received CMA Entertainer of the Year honors at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, he returned to the stage to fulfill another dream. During Saturday night’s (Sept. 14) concert he briefly put his funny man antics aside and shared honestly, “I’ve been hanging around this town since 1994 dreaming of the day I could headline this place. I will never forget this night.”

Shelton’s calling card is his unfiltered brand of humor, and it kept the night rollicking along. But his musical talent shined brightest when he stripped off the armor for a short solo acoustic set of songwriting treasures including “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” and “Over You.”

The Ten Times Crazier Tour is a journey through his decade-plus of hits which plays out in front of first-rate video production and a silo backdrop reminiscent of his home state Oklahoma. The set list boasted fan favorites “The More I Drink,” “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” “All About Tonight,” “Honey Bee,” “Drink On It,” “Boys ‘Round Here,” current single “Mine Would Be You,” and too many more to mention.

For longtime fans that packed the arena, he offered early career milestones “Ol’ Red” and “Austin.” On older hit “Some Beach” he saluted his long gone, long-hair days by donning a white cowboy hat with a fake mullet attached to the back.

The audience howled with laughter as he recalled the first meeting in Los Angeles about joining a new TV show which would become the mega-popular singing competition The Voice. Then he launched into “Forget You,” the smash hit by fellow Voice coach CeeLo Green. On backing vocals throughout the night was country singer and former Voice contestant Gwen Sebastian. 

Given his reputation for colorful tweets, Shelton said his team warned him not to post anything that might offend members of the local music industry while in town for his concert. “If you don’t like my tweets, you can kiss my country ass,” he laughed. Shelton’s sometimes abrasive, often alcohol fueled schtick works because it rings authentic. Leading in to “Hillbilly Bone” he quipped, “I’m worse than a redneck, I’m a drunk redneck.” Fellow hillbilly Trace Adkins made a surprise appearance to perform the duet.

The entire evening reiterated what everyone reading this article already knows: songs are the bedrock of a career. The success of Shelton, as well as opening acts Easton Corbin and Jana Kramer, are proof of the importance of selecting quality material.

Kramer is a spitfire songstress who belted out well-written hits “Whiskey” and “Why Ya Wanna” with infectious enthusiasm. Her background as an actress makes her performance seem all the more real.

Corbin conjured up plenty of audience interaction during his energetic set. The rising star offered his growing list of radio hits: “Lovin’ You Is Fun,” “A Little More Country Than That,” “Roll With It” and “All Over The Road.” From his current album, Corbin sang the gems “Are You With Me” and “That’s Gonna Leave A Memory.”

His clean-cut, collared shirt look and traditional sound draws obvious comparisons to UMG Nashville labelmate George Strait but the covers he performed were from the song books of country icons Alan Jackson (“Where I Come From”), Brooks & Dunn (“Brand New Man”) and Alabama (“If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)”). The set list was a perfectly tailored mix of fan favorites, new material and covers.

UMG Nashville hosted a lively soiree at The Palm prior to Corbin’s performance. Spotted in the private room were Sarah Trahern, Sherod Robertson and Steve Buchanan, mingling among label honchos Mike Dungan, Cindy Mabe and Lori Christian.

The night capped with a Warner Music Nashville post-party celebrating Shelton. Built inside the arena’s backstage, a huge white tent created a makeshift Shelton CMA campaign headquarters. Red, white and blue confetti scattered the floor and a stilt-walking Uncle Sam entertained revelers. Partygoers noshed on scrumptious food with clever names like Boys ‘Round Here Steak Sliders. Industry folk on the scene included WMN head John Esposito, Kent Earls, Reba, Narvel Blackstock, Jeff Walker and Henry Glascock, all milling elbow to elbow including Nashville stars Chip Esten, Sam Palladio, and Chris Carmack.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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