Aaron Lewis Gets Unplugged for New England

Aaron Lewis
Acoustic & Unplugged
February 16, 2012
Mohegan Sun Arena, CT

In a music world where production value and overpowering speakers are the  concert norm, Aaron Lewis took to an Arena stage with nothing more than a stool, a guitar, and a microphone.  Lewis is the former lead man of the rock band, Staind, who has recently come out with a solo country album, entitled “Town Line”.  On this night, he shared his mezmorizing voice with a rowdy New England crowd as he ripped through country songs, Staind songs, unreleased songs he has recently written, as well as a plethera of cover songs from all genres. 

He was joined onstage with what he said was “my friend Ben.  He makes me sound good and keeps the bus clean”.  Ben took to the role of Silent Bob as he simply aided Lewis with musical accents on the steel guitar or an accompanying acoustic guitar.  After awhile, you forgot Ben was even there as all the focus shifted to the tattooed crooner.  Lewis wore a red, white, & blue trucker hat with the words HICK scripted in blue.   After every single song, he smoked a new cigarette.  But for the most part he was full of smiles and seemed to make the unique setlist up as he went along. 

Right from the onset, he announced to the crowd: “it’s (the show) pretty loose tonight, I hope everyone realizes that”.  And indeed it was, he made jokes and took requests from the crowd.  It got to be a bit annoying when everyone from the crowd yelled out either “Country Boy” or “Outside” or “It’s Been Awhile” and Lewis must have agreed because halfway through the set, he said to stop requesting those songs because he would eventually play them.  However, there were a multitude of surprises in the setlist including “Mean” by Taylor Swift, “I’m With You” by Avril Levine, and “American Pie” by Don Mclean.  He may not have performed the full song of any of the covers he did, but he was clearly having fun on the stage and got a kick out of his song choices.  And in return, the crowd both laughed with him and sang along with no shame. 

Of course, Lewis performed his biggest “Staind” hits to the delight of the crowd.  Songs like “So Far Away” and “Outside” became instand sing-a-longs for the crowd.  However, the track he introduced as a song he “wore his vagina on his sleeve for” seemed to hit the crowd in all the right spots.  This, of course, was the hit “Tangled Up in You”.  In fact, he had to stop for a few seconds because he got choked up.  At the same time, a couple got engaged right in front of the stage. 

Above all, his country songs reigned supreme.  The song “Massachusetts” was responded to with cheers and yells as Lewis mentioned different areas of the state, such as the Berkshires, the North Shore, and Worthington.  He performed several new songs that will be coming out on a new country album which he said will forthcoming in June.  The standouts included “State Lines” and “Party in Hell”. 

“Party In Hell” was the song which stood out to me the most on this night.  The steel guitar shined as if it was an old school country tune.  His lyrics are humorous and cunnning:  ” I went to Saint Peter but he won’t let me in. So lets have a party and tell them I’m home. There will be Waylon and Whitney as well.  And Jamey Johnson will be drinking from a brown paper bag. So let’s have a party in hell”. 

Above all, when Lewis sang “Country Boy”, the song which garnered him mutliple country award nominations this past year, the Arena screen illuminated with an American Flag and the crowd responded with applause.  The patriotic song is full of self appreciation for who he is, what he stands for, and where he came from.  It is a breath of fresh air for a man who has created songs mostly full of depression and self loathing. 

I really enjoyed the show and wish more successful artists would do an acoustic and unplugged show.  Just hearing him discuss why he wrote certain songs and how they affected him was a pleasure.  And seeing the lighter side of Aaron Lewis made the night completely worthwhile and memorable. 

Video Clip of “Country Boy”

 Setlist:

  1. So Far Away
  2. State Lines
  3. Massachusetts
  4. I’m With You (Avril Levine Cover)
  5. Mean (Taylor Swift Cover)
  6. Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover performed with a Bob Dylan impression)
  7. Rooster (Alice in Chains Cover)
  8. Greatest Love of All (Whitney Houston Cover)
  9. Party In Hell
  10. I Remember You (Skid Row Cover)
  11. Fill Me Up 
  12. Open Arms
  13. Everything Changes
  14. What Hurts The Most (Jeffrey Steele/Rascal Flatts Cover)
  15. Tangled Up In You
  16. Blown Away
  17. American Pie (Don Mclean)
  18. Forever
  19. Take It Easy (Eagles Cover)
  20. Country Boy

   Encore
   21. Outside
   22. It’s Been Awhile