Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan Bring Their Kinda Party To NJ

Jason Aldean
My Kinda Party Tour
featuring Luke Bryan, DeeJay Silver, and Lauren Alaina

March 24, 2012
Izod Center, New Jersey

This past Saturday night was the long awaited My Kinda Party Tour stop in the swamps of Jersey which showcased two of Country Music’s new stars: Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan.  The two artists, both from Georgia, probably never thought a few years ago that they would be able to fill an arena in Northern New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City, but they did just that.  In fact, www.countrymusicislove.com just reported that Saturday night’s show “set a new record for a Country concert with more than 19,000 fans, breaking Shania Twain’s previous record of 15,749 in 2003.” 

The show started with a set from American Idol alum, Lauren Alaina.  I was unable to see her set, but was treated to seeing her stage presence during her tour-mates sets.  I walked in to the first of two sets by DeeJay Silver, a dj/remixer/producer who had the crowd entertained between acts. 

DeeJay Silver cranked out remixed versions of everything from Eric Church to LMFAO to Garth Brooks to Flo Rida.  I really enjoyed his craft because the songs he mashed up really worked well although the genre’s are so different.  I look forward to hearing more from DeeJay Silver and I believe he is on to something with his mind for music mash-ups. 

 

The lights went dim and rapper Flo Rida’s song “Good Feeling” played as the entire arena got on their feet.  Upon the large projection screen hanging high above the stage, a short video showed a Farmer in Georgia discussing how vital rain is to his life and crops.  This of course set up Luke Bryan’s mega-hit “Rain” which he emerged to from the back of the unique, but complicated stage set up. 

Luke has recently emerged as major name in country music, but has been steadily building his name over the past five or so years.  He played homage to all his hits off of his three albums thus far.  After “Rain”, he sang “Country Man”, then went on to “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.  Throughout his set he was extremely active, using all sides of the stage and interacting with the crowd. 

The one thing that truly stood out to me was the screams of the crowd.  I have been to well over 200 concerts and it is not often that the women in the crowd scream more than they sing.  Justin Timberlake, Enrique Iglesias, and the other pop heartthrob singers get that treatment, but this was the first country artist I’ve seen get that reaction.  Luke has become much more than a country artist, it was very clear.  And he played that up, to the woman’s delight, especially on his latest single, “Drunk On You”, where he did half the song acoustically (shaking his body and dancing playfully throughout), then fired it up with the band.

He did not forget about the men in the crowd as he shouted “where are my deer hunters at? Where are my beer drinkers at?” And followed it up with the bombastic “Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets”.  He interacted with the crowd and really seemed gracious with the streams and cheers.  He stated how much it meant for him “for coming up here and playing across the river from the greatest city in the world”.  Much of the crowd, admist the screams, yelled out a similar ode to Bruce Springsteen as they would call out “Luuuuuuuuuke” between songs. 

He showcased his piano skills during his first ever #1 hit, “Do I” and a version of Adele’s “Someone Like You”.  He cranked out the inner rocker as he mashed up his first single “All My Friends” with Metallica’s “Enter The Sandman”.  He had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he had everyone singing to his latest number #1 “I Don’t Want This Night To End”.  But there was not a higher bit of energy the entire night than on his final song, an auto-tuned remix of “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”.

Not only did he shake it for the crowd, but he brought out Lauren Alaina, who did her own country girl dance (and poked fun at the way Luke dances).  And he brought two males from the crowd to attempt their own dances, which did not work out that well – and Luke really had a good time poking fun at their lack of skills. 

Overall he put forth one of the more spirited opening acts that I have witnessed. This man is very close to selling out arenas with his name at the top of the bill.

DeeJay Silver came back out to keep the crowd on their feet and energized for the headlining act. He did a great job at doing just that as portions of the crowd were fist pumping and “jersey turnpiking” to the club hits. By the time Jason Aldean took to the stage, the Izod Center was transformed into a full on party atmosphere. Wasting no time, Jason smashed right into “Johnny Cash”. 

Jason, for some reason, decided to slow things down a bit for the next three songs: “Big Green Tractor”, “Amarillo Sky” and “The Truth”.  Despite half the crowd losing a bit of their party tenacity, Aldean’s vocals proved to be enough to carry through.  He has such a brilliant live voice in which he can really showcase in all notes, whether it be high or low.  And in those three slower songs, I was mesmerized by the pipes he contains. 

Jason then told everyone to get back on their feet and “get as crazy as you want to Jersey!” – following it up with the vigorous “Crazy Town”.  The stage set up contained several moving projection screens suspended by wires on large cranes.  It also contained several areas on both sides where Jason could perch himself up and show himself to his fans.  There was no large screen behind the stage, as has been the custom for most artists.  Instead, he had a 360 degree stage where fans could sit behind the stage as well.  It was a cool setup and has allowed for Jason’s streak of record breaking crowds. 

After singing his latest single “Fly Over States”, he told the crowd he is finishing up a new album and wants to release it before the end of the year.  He then, abruptly, jumped off the front of the stage and ran through the crowd to the back area, where DeeJay Silver had been set up.  Then Luke Bryan jumped up on the platform with him. 

The crowd went nuts as the two stars ran through a fun acoustic set.  Jason asked Luke why the crowd was boo’ing him and he responded that he wasn’t being boo’ed, but getting his “Springsteen moment”.  He then sang a snippet of “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. 

The two friends discussed life in Georgia, their new found fame, drank some beers together and sang some classics like George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” and Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On”.  Jason then explained how he was upset Luke was not including his favorite song by him in his set anymore.  They then made up for that omission by singing “We Rode In Trucks” together.  It was a special alternative set and I always love to see artists collaborating live.  What made it that much more special is how the two Georgia boys seem to really admire each other.

Jason returned to the main stage and pumped out a few more vocal delights, “Tattoos On This Town”, “Relentless” and the mega-hit “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, which originally features Kelly Clarkson.  Instead, he brought out a dressed up Lauren Alaina who did a great job with the very difficult vocals.

  Lauren really impressed me as she moved about the stage with the confidence of a veteran and Jason absolutely nailed his vocals giving everyone goosebumps. 

Jason did not slow things down any longer as he pumped out “My Kinda Party” and “She’s Country” as the final two songs of his set.  Drummer Rich Redmond displayed his often humorous yet very effective drumming skills throughout the two energetic anthems.  Jason left the stage for a short few minutes and returned for his encore.

As impressive as Jason’s live vocals are, his rapping skills are equally impressive.  He performed a perfect version of his rapid fire hip hop/country song “Dirt Road Anthem”.  Microphone in hand, Jason moved about the stage to the song with all the swagger and bravado of any rapper just over to the river in NYC.  The crowd helped Jason recover as they belted out the chorus to the catchy song. 

He finished things off with his first ever single, the John Rich written “Hicktown”.  He included all the extra verses and gave the crowd everything he had left.  Overall, Aldean brought a hell of a party to NJ, full of rocking country anthems, love songs, great vocals, a unique stage set up, and a cast of tour-mates that had something for every fan.  I look forward to seeing this same tour again and would highly suggest you don’t miss out on this party. 

Luke Bryan Setlist:

  1. Rain
  2. Country Man
  3. Someone Else Calling You Baby
  4. Drunk On You Acoustic
  5. Drunk On You
  6. Drinking Beer, Wasting Bullets
  7. If You Ain’t Here To Party
  8. Someone Like You (Adele Cover)
  9. Do I
  10. All My Friends (Enter the Sandman snippet)
  11. I Don’t Want This Night To End
  12. Country Girl (Shake It For Me) w/ Lauren Alaina

Jason Aldean Setlist:

  1. Johnny Cash
  2. Big Green Tractor
  3. Amarillo Sky
  4. The Truth
  5. Crazy Town
  6. Fly Over States
  7. Glory Days – with Luke Bryan (Bruce Springsteen cover)
  8. Amarillo By Morning – with Luke Bryan (George Strait cover)
  9. Time Marches On – with Luke Bryan (Tracy Lawrence cover)
  10. We Rode In Trucks with Luke Bryan (Luke Bryan cover)
  11. Tattoos On This Town
  12. Relentess
  13. Don’t You Wanna Stay (with Lauren Alaina)
  14. My Kinda Party
  15. She’s Country
  16. Dirt Road Anthem (ENCORE)
  17. Hick Town (ENCORE)

VIDEOS:

Rodney Atkins Takes a Back Road to NYC (original publication on countrymusicislove.com)

Rodney Atkins
iHeartRadio Theater
Tribeca, NYC
Nov. 4, 2011

The original publication of this article can be found on www.countrymusicislove.com

On Friday night, New York City was treated to an intimate live performance from one of the rising stars of country music, Rodney Atkins.  I was greeted by Vanessa Wojtusiak, the Manager of Digital Marketing & Programming at Clear Channel Online Music & Radio, who informed me that the Theater was just renamed to the iHeartRadio Theater (formerly known as the PC Richard & Sons Theater).  This music venue is one of the best I’ve ever been to.  It gives fans an up close experience to top artists while providing exceptional acoustics.

At approximately 7 p.m., Jonathan Clarke, an on-air personality from New York’s Q104.3 came out to warmly great the crowd and introduce Rodney.  He asked the crowd if anyone was from Rodney’s home town of Knoxville and informed us that Rodney’s last single (“Take A Back Road”) was the fastest rising of his career.  Rodney came out and modestly stated “This first request is for you guys.”  The fiddle sounded and his band jumped right into “These Are My People”. 

Rodney is not flashy at all.  He was dressed simply in a trucker hat, a grey sweater, and brown cargo slacks.  He was very soft spoken between his songs and really lets his music do the entertaining.  He prides himself on singing about real life events that normal people can relate to.  He took the time to sing the next two songs about his son, Elijah, who was actually in the crowd.  He stated “this is for my little bear” and emotionally sang the smash hit “Watching You”.  As the yellow and blue lights swirled and filled the theater, it was an amazing moment to see his son react to the song his father was singing.  He was full of smiles and jumped up and down singing right along with him. 

The next song was also about his son as Rodney jokingly explained that his son had just hit double digits (in age) and Rodney knew what he did when he was younger was going to come back haunt him.   But he always wanted his son to know he loved him “and it’s unconditional.”  He then sang his new song on country radio, “He’s Mine”.  It sounded even better live than it did it does on the radio as extra emotion was pumped through Rodney’s vocals.  He certainly has yet another hit on his hands. 
Rodney took the time to introduce his band before he sang “Farmer’s Daughter” which included amazing instrumental moments from a band member playing a banjo and another on the steel guitar.  It is good old country music at its finest.  He introduced the next song as the first love song he has ever done.  He said its “hard to find a real love song because once you are in a relationship it’s not all blue skies and no bills”.   He, of course, was talking about “Cabin In The Woods”, a real stand-out song off of his newest album. 

His next song was the one the crowd was obviously waiting for as the entire Theater sang “Take A Back Road” in unison with Rodney.  In fact, he seemed to be getting more comfortable on stage as he was very animated and interactive during this huge hit.  He followed it up by singing to a fan in the crowd who was celebrating a birthday.  He performed an acoustic version of the fan’s favorite song, Garth Brooks’ classic hit “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old”. 

Rodney finished up his set by proudly toasting all the soldiers who were serving abroad and stating “may we all be in heaven five minute before the devil knows we’re there!”  He of course was eluding to arguably his biggest hit “If You’re Going Through Hell”.  Rodney did not use his guitar for the first time that night as he used every inch of the stage.  He was clearly most at ease singing this song and he was nothing but energy and smiles throughout. 

I was able to speak to Rodney after the show and I asked him what he was most proud of with the new album.  His response was “Not to be trite, but we love keeping the music real to who we are. And our album’s material has not wavered from the first album. And I love the way I can keep my music true to who I am.”  He also explained to me that the album took a long time to make because he really wanted the right songs to be on the record.  My friend Max who came with me to the show explained that from one father to another, he hoped he could see his son’s face during “Watching You” and “He’s Mine”, because it was a powerful reaction. Rodney as always, was very gracious and humble.  For such a soft spoken guy, his music really speaks loudly and you could tell everyone at the iHeartRadio Theater that night really connected with his music. 

All photos are courtesy of Jeremy Harris of iHeartRadio.  All in all, it was an exceptional show in a superb venue. Thank you to CountryMusicIsLove, iHeart Radio, and Clear Channel Radio for such a great experience.

Setlist

  1. These Are My People
  2. Watching You
  3. He’s Mine
  4. Farmer’s Daughter
  5. Cabin In the Woods
  6. Take A Back Road
  7. Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old (Garth Brooks Cover)
  8. If You’re Going Through Hell

The Civil Wars Serenade New York City

The Civil Wars
Town Hall – New York City
October 27, 2011

The Civil Wars took to the stage in New York City on October 27, 2011 at the historic Town Hall, and did not disappoint in the least.  It was fitting that this band picked such an old music venue on a night which was dark, cold and dreary.  Their music is hauntingly beautiful in a charming, old fashioned kind of way. 

The Civil Wars is a duo consisting of Joy Williams and John Paul White, who explained that they met in Nashville at a simple songwriting session.  They blend their distinct voices to create their own form of Americana/folk/alt-country music.  Their live show was very simple as  John Paul played an acoustic guitar while Joy mainly sang along with him.  She occasionally sat and played the piano, but mainly stood beside her co-part.  There were no flashing lights or high production effects.  Instead, the duo lets their music do the entertaining – and their fans greatly appreciate that. 

I was blown away by how amazing they sounded live and how their voices blend so well together.  Their music truly is unlike anything today’s music has to offer.  They were fantastic on the dark “Barton Hollow” and the beautiful “20 Years”.  John Paul had a plethera of jokes for the crowd between songs and Joy danced on stage in an adorable and playful manner. 

What was most impressive was their very unique cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, which served as the first song of their encore (a video clip can be seen below).  The set flowed perfectly and the duo sounded incredible.  They have an extremely simple, yet likeable stage presence.  If you have not heard The Civil Wars yet, you are in store for a refreshing musical experience. 

Setlist:

1) Tip of My Tongue
2) Forget Me Not
3) From This Valley
4) 20 Years
5) I’ve Got This Friend
6) My Father’s Father
7) Barton Hollow
8) Falling
9) Go
10) I Want You Back
11) Henry
12) To Whom It May Concern
13) Birds of a Feather
14) Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins Cover Song)
15) Poison & Wine
Encore
16) Billie Jean (Michael Jackson Cover Song)
17) Dance Me To the End of Love (Leonard Cohen Cover Song)

Videos:

20 Years
Barton Hollow

Billie Jean 




Luke Bryan Brings Country to the Big City

LUKE BRYAN
P.C. Richard & Son Theater, New York City

August 8, 2011

The original publication of this article was posted on:
 http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2011/08/lb-nyc.html

Please check out their amazing website. 


I arrived at the pristine P.C. Richard & Son Theater, located at 32 Avenue of the Americas in New York City’s Tribeca Neighborhood, about two hours before Showtime. To my surprise, there was already a huge single file line in front of the building and wrapped around the block. The fans, predominantly females of all ages, came equipped with a mixture of signs, boots, and cowboy hats. Everyone was happy to withstand the humidity as they were eager for their chance to get an up close and personal look at country music’s newest star, Luke Bryan.

           


At approximately 7:00 p.m., Jonathan Clarke of NYC’s Classic Rock Station, Q 104.3, took the stage.  He announced that everyone in the crowd should feel very lucky because the show was going to be a “live television event”.  In that, he meant it was going to be streaming live on iheartradio’s website as well as multiple country music radio station websites across the country.  There was even a twitter trend created for the show (#iheartradiolive) that he encouraged fans in the crowd to tweet during the show. 


Luke Bryan came out to the stage to a fury of screams from the crowd.  He stated “What’s up New York City and iHeartradio? We have a good looking crowd here. This is going to be a lot of fun.  If you were calling someone your baby and you’re not anymore, this song is for you.” He opened his show with a former #1 hit, “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.  In typical Luke Bryan fashion, he was smiling, dancing, and interacting with the crowd throughout the song. 


Luke next took the time to briefly tell the crowd that his new album “Tailgates & Tanlines” was being released at midnight that night and said he was going to do a few songs off the new album.  He proclaimed “this is last show that I will do without a new album out. The next song you have to get your ‘boom boom’ on.”  Of course, that got a rise out of the crowd and he proceeded to sing a new fan favorite “Drunk On You”.  The song is very catchy and is very chorus driven:




“girl you make my speakers go boom boom,
Dancing on the tailgate in the full moon
That kind of thing makes a man go mmm mmm,
You’re looking so good in what’s left of those blue jeans,
Drip of honey on the money make it got to be
The best buzz I’m ever going to find.
Hey I’m a little drunk on you
And high on summertime.”






Luke laughed after the song because the crowd seemingly knew every word to the song although it was yet to be released.  In fact, many of the fans had signs decorated with the phrases “boom boom” and “drunk on you”.  He said “a lot of you must be watching some youtube or something”. 




He then proceeded to introduce another song off of the new album entitled “I Don’t Want This Night To End”.  In fact, he stated that he expects this to become the next single released after “Country Girl hopefully goes number one”.  In my opinion, if he decides to release this song as a single, he will certainly have yet another number one single on his hands. 




The song is very new age country with a phenomenal instrumental sound combined with a fun storyline.  Musically, it is very similar to Kenny Chesney’s song “Somewhere With You” in that it is a very soulful sounding song which he switches his notes from mid-tempo to rapid-fire very smoothly.  The song is a story about a girl who he apparently just has met and how they are staying up all night driving and dancing in his pickup truck. 




I must mention that throughout the performance, the P.C. Richard & Son Theater really helped showcase Luke’s performance.  It is a small stage, but had the perfect amount of room for Luke to do his patented “Elvis-type” dance moves that he has become famous for.  Further, the intimate style of the venue had every fan from the front row to the back feel like they were getting a private performance.  The acoustics in the theater were flawless and I overheard many fans ranting and raving about how much they enjoyed their experience there. 




Luke, always the charmer, decreed to the crowd that he wanted to go “honkey-tonking on Broadway tonight.  This song will start it.  iHeartradio will have some frisky country girls.”  He obviously was alluding to his smash hit “Rain Is A Good Thing”.  The entire crowd was singing along as Luke sang and danced.  The energy of both the band and the crowd were at its peak and Luke immediately took his cue to up the ante once more.




The speakers began to play a hip-hop auto tune (robot voice) of “Country Girl Shake It For Me” and everyone knew what was next.  Luke and the band let the auto tune say its phrase a few times and then ripped right into their original country version.  Everyone in the New York City crowd was either clapping along with both hands above their head or fist-pumping ala the Jersey Shore cast.  Luke put his guitar down, grabbed the microphone, went to the front of the stage and partied along with the crowd to his new mega-hit. 




He closed the night out with what he called “a good old fashion cover song”.  To the crowd’s pleasant surprise he belted out a great rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s former platinum hit “Play Something Country”.  Again he had everyone singing and wailing their arms.  As the consonant performer that Luke Bryan is, he had everyone that night smiling and dancing along right back with him.  The only question was: did the crowd have more fun or did Luke himself?




Moreover, as an added bonus, Luke announced he would wait outside the door to give an autograph to every single person in the building.  Not only does his talent shine through his music and his energy flow through his performances, but he treats his fans with a respect that is unlike any other artist in any genre of music. 




I would like to thank countrymusicislove.com to for giving me the opportunity to attend such a private event, as well as iHeart Radio, Vanessa Wojtusiak, and Clear Channel Radio for their astounding hospitality.

The above pictures are courtesy of iHeartRadio / Mark Gong.





Setlist:
1) Someone Else Calling You Baby
2) Drunk On you
3) I Don’t Want This Night To End
4) Rain Is A Good Thing
5) Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
6) Play Something Country (Brooks & Dunn Cover)



Eric Church – CD Release Party in NYC: “Chief: Deconstructed”

ERIC CHURCH
Cheif: Deconstructed
Album Release Party
Bowery Ballroom, New York City
July 26, 2011

I had the pleasure of attending the cd release party of country music star: Eric Church.  The event was dubbed “Chief: Deconstructed” and was held at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on July 26, 2011.  This was the same day that his third studio album was released entitled “Chief”.  A bonus for the sold out crowd was that each ticket-holder received a hard copy of the album. 

Fans who are familiar with Eric Church’s live shows all know that they are full of adrenaline with chest pounding and boot stomping.  This night would be very different.  Upon arriving to the intimate venue, the stage had no drum set and no amplifiers; instead, it only had five stools.  The title of the show was “Chief: Deconstructed”, so no one had any idea what to expect.

It was very clear once Eric and four other men took to the stage and sat down, each with an acoustic guitar in hand.  This would not be the energetic and often hyper Eric Church show, instead it would soon become an intimate look inside Eric Church “the song writer”.  The other four men were Ryan Tyndell, Jeff Hyde, Luke Laird, and Casey Beathard.  Each of these men not only helped sing the eleven tracks of the new release, but were also Eric’s co-writers for the album. 

The show did not follow the exact tracklisting of the album.  However, each song off of “Chief” was played.  Eric started with Ryan Tyndell as they sang “Keep On” and followed it up by singing the ultra-country “Jack Daniels” with Jeff Hyde.  Jeff is not only a co-writer, but also is in Eric’s band.  The crowd already knew the words to this song as they sang along during the chorus.  Eric has been playing this song during some of his shows over the past year. 

In fact, Eric sang each of the songs as a duet with the co-writer who helped him write each of the songs.  The only songs he did by himself included the third song of the night, “Creepin'”, and the last, “Country Music Jesus”.  “Creepin'” has the potential to be a big radio hit for Eric as it is fast paced and rocks pretty hard. 

Luke Laird next sang “Over When Its Over” which is a nice song with a catchy hook.  Then Eric introduced Casey Beathard as “my favorite songwriter in Nashville”.  In fact, the song Casey sang next, “Like Jesus Does” is the first song Eric has ever recorded that he did not write or co-write.  Casey obviously explained that it was quite the honor for that achievement.  The crowd began to mysteriously chant “one more year”.  Eric caught on and quickly said “oh, is it because he looks like Brett Favre?”.  The crowd applauded and Eric laughed hysterically. 

“Like Jesus Does” is one of the standouts on the cd.  It is so radio friendly it is unbelievable.  I personally hope he releases it as a single at some point because I think it would shoot straight to number one. 

Eric next stated “we’ve played every place in America.  I’ve slept in every enviroment you can think of.  I am passionate of my music and right now we are the number one album in America.  It means so much to me and it is because of you guys I have this passion and we can do this.”  It was a great prelude to his next song “Springsteen”.  It is also a catchy tune that happens to be one of my favorites on the new album.  It includes Bruce Springsteen song titles cleverly placed throughout the track.  As always, you could heard different people in the crowd shout “Bruuuuuuuuuce”. 

Next Jeff Hyde sang “I’m Getting Stoned” which is a funny song about a man who found out his ex-girlfriend got married to someone else and he realizes he messed up.  The chorus is “she got a rock and I’m getting stoned”. 

Then Eric stated that the next song, “Hungover & Hard Up”, was his favorite on the new album.  It is a slower song about a man going through some struggles, all the while fighting off a hangover.  If this song isn’t pure country, I don’t know what is. 

Casey Beathard set up the background for the next song that was sung, “Homeboy”, which happens to be Eric’s new single on country radio.  Casey said he got the idea because his son was listening to some bad music on the radio and acting all tough so he said “what’s up homeboy?”  He then had that stuck in his mind and called up Eric to write the song.  He knew Eric was “the only person who could record the song”.  Eric and Casey let the crowd do most of the singing as everyone in the Bowery Ballroom that night seemingly knew the lyrics word for word.

Eric then spotted a sign in the crowd in which a young man was holding up that said “On My Bucket List: Take Shot with Eric Church”.  Eric actually brought the young man on stage, poured two shots of Jack Daniels and took it with him.  It set up the next song perfectly, “Drink In My Hand”.  It is a fun, easy-going song that I am sure will be heard at country music tailgate parties throughout America this summer. 

Finally, the last song of the night was “Country Music Jesus”.  Eric seemed to struggle with the lyrics and only sang half of the song, but maintained himself well.  For true fans of Eric Church, this night was quite special.  You did not get the energy of his normal rowdy live shows, nor the smoke and amplifiers.  Instead, you got a look inside the real song writer that he is – and got to hear the new tracks and the stories behind why they were written. 

As I listened to the studio album on my ride back home that night, it was amazing how different the songs sounded from the acousitc set.  Each of the songs were lyrically dynamic enough to sustain an enjoyable acoustic set, yet when the production and instruments were set to the songs, the music sounded that much better.  Overall, the album is phenomenal and I would highly recommend country music fans to purchase it.  And I will have a greater understanding and connection to the album after seeing the stripped down set that night at the Bowery Ballroom. 

Setlist:

1. Keep On
2. Jack Daniels
3. Creepin’
4. Over When It’s Over
5. Like Jesus Does
6. Springsteeen
7. I’m Getting Stoned
8. Hungover & Hard Up
9. Homeboy
10. Drink In My Hand
11. Country Music Jesus

Video Clips:

1) Jack Daniels
2) Creepin’

Tim McGraw and Luke Bryan Shine Bright at Mohegan Sun

TIM McGRAW
Emotional Traffic Tour
with Luke Bryan and The Band Perry
Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut
7-24-11

If you are a fan of any genre of music, you have heard of Tim McGraw.  He has countless #1 singles, was the most played artist of the decade, and even did a crossover song with Hip-Hop Star Nelly which was accepted by all radio stations.   He is in movies, commercials, and even has his own cologne.  But for all of those achievements, the thing he does best is perform live. 

On July 23rd, 2011, Tim McGraw brought his Emotional Traffic Tour to Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.  The Tour is named after an upcoming album that he is currently in a legal dispute over with his record label.  The supporting acts on this Tour are The Band Perry and a rising star, Luke Bryan.

I was not able to see The Band Perry perform because I was awarded a meet and greet with Luke Bryan.  I have met Luke many times over the course of his career.  The first time was when he was doing a free acoustic set at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlantic City, NJ back in January of 2008.  He has come quite a long way from free sets at restaurants.  He now has three number 1 singles on the Billboard Country Charts.   He is on his way to a fourth number 1 with “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” which is currently number eight and rising each week. 

As always, Luke was incredibly nice and humble.  He takes the time to take a picture and  give an autograph with each meet and greet pass-holder.  Since I have met him seven times now over the past two and a half years, he recognizes me.   We spoke a bit about his upcoming headling tour which is the “CMT on Tour 2011”.  He said they will be making a stop in New York City which should excite most country fans in that area.

During his set, he utilized the catwalk to perfection.  Usually opening acts are hesitant to use the catwalk at all and stick to the main stage.  However, Luke is not the ordinary opening act.  He came out to “Country Man” and immediately ran all the way down the catwalk which stretched out from the stage all the way to the back of the floor section.  He had everyone in the Arena up and dancing the entire time.  He ran through hits like “Rain Is A Good Thing”, “Do I”, “We Rode In Trucks” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.  A highlight was the macho song “Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets”.  Of course, his newest single (“Country Girl, Shake it For Me”) had everyone shaking and singing along to every word.  He ended the set, as he does with every one of his shows, with a remix of his first single “All My Friends” and Metalica’s “Enter The Sandman”.  Overall, Luke Bryan’s set was one of the best opening acts I have ever seen and had every bit of energy that a headliner would have. 

Tim McGraw would not be outshined this night.  When it was time for his set a giant screen was unvieled and the spotlight quickly shined on the other side of the Arena.  To everyone’s surprise, McGraw appeared walking down the aisle from that opposite side while singing one of his biggest hits, “Something Like That”. 

Tim utilized the catwalk more than any headliner I have every seen.  He wasn’t running around like a Kenny Chesney, but had a slow powerful walk that had every woman in the building scream and every guy admire his “swagger”.  He sang all of his hits from “Where the Green Grass Grows” to “Last Dollar” to “The Cowboy In Me”.  He even threw in some fan favorites like “Do You Want Fries With That” and “Red Ragtop”.  Whatever he decided to sing next was met with cheers, screams, and applause. 

I have seen Tim McGraw five times now and this was not only the best, but it appeared to be the most fun he ever had.  He seemed to give every single person along the catwalk, including myself, a high five.  He was constantly smiling, which is unique for the usually serious McGraw.  It was good to see him like that since I know he is going through that heated legal battle with his Record Company. 

He even surprised the crowd by bringing out The Band Perry for “Can’t Really Be Gone” and Luke Bryan for “Back When”.  Luke and Tim seemed like young teenagers having the time of their lives, singing, laughing and even hugging at points. 

Tim closed out his set with “Real Good Man”.  His encore consisted of  “Live Like You Were Dying”, “Indian Outlaw” and “I Like It, I Love It”.  Full of energy and bravado, Tim McGraw put forth a memorable performance that shows why he is still certainly one of the Kings of Country Music. 

Luke Bryan’s Setlist:

1. Country Man
2. Someone Else Calling You Baby
3. Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets
4. If You Ain’t Here To Party
5. Drunk On You
6. We Rode In Trucks
7. Do I
8. Rain Is A Good Thing
9. Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
10. All My Friends (with “Enter The Sandman”)

Tim McGraw’s Setlist:
1. Something Like That
2. Where The Green Grass Grows
3. Down On The Farm
4. Last Dollar
5. Just To See You Smile
6. Please Remember Me
7. For A Little While
8. Right Back At Ya
9. Red Ragtop
10. Unbroken
11. Sail On
12. Can’t Really Be Gone (with The Band Perry)
13. Back When (with Luke Bryan)
14. Do You Want Fries With That
15. The Cowboy In Me
16. Southern Voice
17. Felt Good On My Lips
18. Real Good Man

Encore:

19. Live Like You Were Dying
20. Indian Outlaw
21. I Like It, I Love It

www.countrymusicislove.com

Everyone should check out a phenomenal website entitled: www.countrymusicislove.com

They give up to the minute breaking news on the world of country music.  You can also follow them on twitter: @cmilove

I have had the opportunity to write a few articles as a guest writer for this amazing website.  Check them out below:

Toby Keith: New York City (August 20, 2010) :
http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2010/08/review-toby-keith-at-p-c-richard-sons-theatre-in-nyc.html

Toby Keith’s new album: track by track (October 6, 2010):
http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2010/10/track-by-track-review-toby-keiths-bullets-in-the-gun.html

Darius Rucker: New York City (October 12, 2010):
http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2010/10/review-darius-rucker-secret-show-at-p-c-richard-son-theater.html

Rascal Flatts: New York City (November 20, 2010):
http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2010/11/review-rascal-flatts-secret-show-at-nycs-p-c-richard-son-theater.html