Brad Paisley brought fans into his musical wheel house for his Beat This Winter Tour; the tour’s title was all too appropriate. “Tonight we take winter and bury it as far deep as we can. Then we’ll take that Pennsylvania groundhog and fill him full of buckshot.” No doubt that statement got beachlovers and hunters a little giddy.
Danielle Bradbery, the sweet voiced teen singer that won viewers’ hearts on NBC’s The Voice, captivated the Nashville crowd with relatable camaraderie rather than forced swagger. Her natural stage presence and charisma was undeniable on songs including her single “Heart of Dixie” and “Wild Boy” (previously recorded by artist Maggie Sajak). The newcomer also signed for fans after the show.
Between sets, Dee Jay Silver served up dance remix versions of Country hits, though the crowd seemed more intent on catching a beer or bathroom break before the next act.
It was as close as you can get to a hometown gig for Murfreesboro, Tenn. native Chris Young, who launched into his 45-minute portion of the PM show with “AM,” followed by several selections from the solid roster of hit songs he has built up since his debut. The louder the better seems to be the going motto at concerts over the past decade, and unfortunately that din of sound can drown out even the heartiest voices, as was the case in several sections of “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” Young’s breakthrough hit from 2009.
His golden voice finally took center stage on the wholesome “Voices,” followed by “Lonely Eyes,” an album cut from Young’s latest project AM. His versatile, textbook Country voice easily bounced from the soul-tinged Country of “You” (complete with a falsetto at the end that completely charmed the nearly sold-out crowd), to party-rock songs such as “Save Water, Drink Beer” and the evening’s biggest crowd pleaser, “Aw Naw.”
“We’ve covered the fallin’ in love songs, and we’ve done a few drinkin’ songs, so this is our pickup line for the evening,” he called “I Can Take It From There.” He worked the stage looking every bit the professional, though his tendency overall to stay center stage might make one guess his influences lean more George Strait than Garth Brooks. The power ballad “Tomorrow” garnered another superb crowd response; Young has one of those classic voices and an ear for solid material that Country singers decades from now would be wise to emulate.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Nashville,” quipped headliner (and longtime Nashville resident) Brad Paisley early in the show. “I’ve seen it on Nashville—is it like the TV show?” Paisley should know; he’s made two guest appearances on the popular ABC drama. He sailed through a long string of hits and album cuts, including “Saturday Night,” “Mud On The Tires” (“This is for all those Tennessee rednecks who can’t keep their trucks clean”), “Outstanding In Our Field” (Young joined Paisley for this one), “Old Alabama,” “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song),” “Then,” and “This Is Country Music,” an unofficial Country music anthem for this Nashville crowd.
The singer-songwriter walked around the arena to greet fans, landing at a small stage at the back of the arena, where he performed a shortened acoustic set that included “Online,” “Still A Guy,” and “Waitin’ On A Woman” (complete with snippets of the music video that featured Andy Griffith).
Far and away the highlight of the evening was Carrie Underwood‘s surprise appearance for “Remind Me,” which sent the crowd into a fit of hysterical screaming. The crowd response was considerable enough that even Underwood’s powerful voice was slightly overtaken. The longtime friends and CMA Awards show co-hosts shared a close camaraderie during the ballad, as Paisley accented the song with tasteful guitar picking.
Paisley sailed through additional warm weather-appropriate material, including “Water,” “Ticks,” and “Beat This Summer,” before ending the set with the appropriate, unofficial concert anthem, “Alcohol,” complete with a sidestage bar and a crowd of his buddies, crew, tourmates and fellow artists, including Young, Chuck Wicks, Terri Clark, Charlie Worsham and a host of others.
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