The Weekend Warrior Tour
The country music of today ain’t your father’s country music but Brad Paisley & his tour mates proved that that’s okay last Friday night at the Toyota Music Factory. There’s nothing wrong with the current state of country – it is just different than the music we grew up on. At the end of the night, they left the stage having given the audience a show to remember and maybe laid the blueprint down for others to follow.
Canadian singer/songwriter Lindsay Ell started the night off right with her blend of country that swayed a bit towards the rock arena. 2017 saw her break out with her first extended play effort Worth the Wait and then followed that up with her first full-length album The Project. With her girl-next-door charm, her Nirvana t-shirt and some serious skill on the guitar, Lindsay thrilled the audience for a brief 30 minutes with country, rock and pop tunes that got the crowd moving. The highlight of her set was her chart-topping hit “Criminal” which started off with a very eclectic intro that transformed into a sweet, breathtaking “relationship tragedy” of a powerful song.
Coming from old country stock (his grandfather played with Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings), Chase Bryant wowed the TMF audience with stunning vocals and his personal brand of country rock. His left-handed guitar style looks awkward at times, but he can flat-out play it as he did during “Take It on Back” and a fine version of John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses”. Never actually seen a performer bend down on the front of the stage a kiss somebody but thankfully he preceded this act by telling us his fiancé was in the front row tonight. His final song, “Little Bit of You” was played to perfection as he made me jot down the following in my notes: “… this is country country!!!”
In a further nod to the blurring lines between country and rock, Dustin Lynch came out onto the stage with the Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” blaring over the house speakers. Kicking his set off with “Hell of a Night”, his voice was amazing and his whole band’s sound was fantastic. With his stunning good looks and broad, bright smile; Dustin had all of the ladies in the audience screaming at the top of their lungs as he belted his way through “Mind Reader” and the upbeat “I’d Be Jealous Too”. Looking like he was having the time of his life, he continued to thrill the crowd for a good half hour or more. Finishing it off with three stunning but completely different songs, Dustin and his band blazed through “Where It’s At”, “Small Town Boy” and the absolutely wonderful “Cowboys and Angels”.
By the time Brad Paisley hit the stage, the audience stretched from the front row all the way up to the far reaches of the grassy area. If this show was not a sell-out = it was really close and all in attendance were in store for a very special treat. Brad hit the ground running with “Last Time for Everything” and right then he caught my attention. Having never seen Brad in concert, I was not sure what to expect but whatever I had in mind was exceeded ten fold. The man is a genuine performer who loves to give his fans what they want = song after song after song of pure country. “Old Alabama” was an ode to the good ole days (complete with Alabama singing the song on the giant video screen behind the stage), “Perfect Storm” was a beautiful love song and “Online” was a tongue-in-cheek look at the fake personas on the World Wide Web. To get the audience even more hyped up, he played a few party songs back-to-back, “One Beer Can” and “Crushin’ It” (complete with an awesome Fail Army video streaming on the big screen) just before he threw in the requisite “Deep in the Heart of Texas” snippet.
In yet another first in my concert life, Brad stopped halfway through “This Is Country Music” to give his guitar to a ten year old girl in the front row just before he brought out some service veterans while he sang the hit “Love and War” he did with John Fogerty (who wasn’t there in person but was up on the video screen). He sang “American Saturday Night” with Chase Brantley and a few songs later had Dustin Lynch out for “I’m Still a Guy” while they went through a young lady’s cell phone who willing gave it up to the devious duo. The hilarious Southpark-themed video for “Celebrity” was a nice added touch and the hits just kept on flowing.
Not really expecting a two hour show from Paisley & his splendid group threw me off a bit but they continued on with another dozen songs after this point. The highlights were “You’ll Always Be My First (Cousin), a great duet with Lindsay Ell (“Whiskey Lullaby”) and the great “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishing Song)”. Coming out one more time to sing the closing time song “Alcohol”, Brad Paisley far surpassed any expectations that I might have had. The whole evening was a resounding success and the local country music fans were treated to yet another wonderful concert at the Toyota Music factory.