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