Zac Brown Band – Fenway Park, Boston, MA (August 21, 2016)
Written by Jody Smith
It is not an original thought by now, but the Zac Brown Band (ZBB) may not only be the best touring band in country music, but the best band touring, period. Their pure musical talent is obvious, but their diversity of music styles show off not only their musical abilities, but their collective voices and creativity. They continued with that diversity this weekend at Fenway Park in Boston, MA, where Zac pledged a “no repeat weekend” … and yes, they delivered. The fans that follow them are just as diverse, in age, as there were children in attendance all the way up to seniors.
I have been to ZBB shows prior to his sell outs where they had a cast of bands with them because there was not enough in the arsenal to fill a show. I have been to sold out shows from New Hampshire to Mexico in recent years to see ZBB. It is not a stretch to say Zac and his band seem to get better and better.
After seeing the set list for Saturday and knowing this weekend was a page from the Grateful Dead as a no repeat weekend, I was a bit skeptical about Sunday. If Saturday was Dr. Jekyll, then I was predicting Mr. Hyde for Sunday. What we got was that and then some. The first set was an emotional roller coaster. The show opened with Jump Right In and stayed with Uncaged for The Wind, and then things got interesting. In a Jerry Garcia-esqe way, they rolled into Where the Boat Leaves From into One Love. Fenway was on fire, so why not a chance for everyone to sing S.O.B? It was time to bring the heart rates down with more from Uncaged and Jekyll + Hyde prior to reflection time, which came the way of Dress Blues. This song, on it’s own, is a potential Kleenex grabber for all, but when Zac brought out a WW II Veteran Fenway did what Fenway does…. erupted in unison! An amazing tribute to the Greatest Generation.
Well , the expression goes you cant keep a good man down so it has to be Metallica time featuring John Driskell Hopkins on vocals. Did I say an emotional first set? Not done, yet the flow continued with Highway 20 Ride and then the stools came out. Zac Brown side by side with legendary recording artist Mac McAnally for Jimmy Buffett favorite A Pirate Looks A Forty ! The set finished with a couple more acoustics and then it was beer:30 and time for a well deserved break.
The second set was filled with many from You Get What You Give , as well as what has now become the obligatory Heavy is the Head. The surprises however where not complete , an amazing version of Aviccii’s Broken Arrows followed by a performance of 11 year old piano prodigy Joey Alexander and if your going to play in Fenway you bring out Ken Casey one of the lead signers of Dropkick Murphys’ to do of course, Shipping Up To Boston. The night finished with yet another tribute to Prince and topped off by Homegrown and I think the 36,000 were pumped up and exhausted all at the same time.
If you managed to survive both shows at Fenway you got to hear 45 different songs performed by ZBB. In a day in age where most performers barely have enough music that people want to hear in one night, ZBB delivered a flawless two night no-repeat weekend. Zac seemed so energized and grateful for the crowds. He recognized the 7 sold out shows at Fenway (a new venue record) and seemed very appreciative. Yep , you can have all the rest , I will take ZBB vs. the field.