Anticipation morphed into mania. Jason Aldean appeared on the stage after most fans had been waiting in the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena for nearly two hours on Saturday night.
Some fans probably believe they got more than they bargained while others likely found the two-hour delay excruciating. However, I think the majority of the attendees would agree that Aldean’s performance was worth the wait.
Aldean played the Spokane stop of his They Don’t Know Tour alongside special guests Chris Young and Kane Brown.
While most audience members were there to see Aldean, Young delivered a knockout performance. He opened with his song “Underdogs,” where he displayed impressive control over his voice. His sound was natural and easy from the start.
His wide smile, charisma and ability to engage the audience immediately kicked the night into high gear. Young sang his first No. 1 hit, “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” a seductive ballad that elicited thunderous applause from the crowd – especially the female audience members. He added more flair to the live performance of the song, which included a series of challenging vocal runs.
Young’s vocal performance and energy only improved throughout his set.
“I probably talk a little too much but it’s what I do. If I get a chance to say thank you, I’m going to take it,” he later said to the crowd.
After the two-hour wait, Aldean emerged from a raised platform wearing faded blue jeans, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt and a straw cowboy hat. Aldean darted across the stage from start to finish, sometimes situated amidst the audience, on raised platforms in the corners or at center stage.
I have seen many talented country superstars take the stage in Spokane: Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Toby Keith, to name a few. None were more versatile and captivating than Aldean.
One of Aldean’s first numbers, “The Only Way I Know,” is normally sung alongside country singers Eric Church and Luke Bryan, but he carried the song on his own with help from his band.
Later in the night, Aldean promised the audience a good time because he “knows how to throw a party,” he said.
“Let me break it down for you. Here’s the deal,” he added. “I feel like most guys get up here and spend most of the night talking. I don’t do a lot of that … I just want you to know up front.”
While Aldean’s singing and guitar playing would have been enough for most of the crowd, he augmented and enriched the fan experience with dazzling light shows, pyrotechnics and other effects
One of the first songs Aldean played was “A Little More Summertime,” a perfect way to nostalgically glance back at the passing season and step into fall. Later, his hit “Any Ol’ Bartstool” displayed the rich resonance and clarity of his lower tones.
The night featured a healthy variety of old and new tracks, including “When She Says Baby” (2012) and “This Crazy Town” (2009), where both the band and Aldean introduced the rock and roll flavor that peppered the show. Aldean spoke out against limiting music to a specific genre.
“The cool thing about music is there are no rules and you can pretty much do anything you want to,” he said.
Aldean also paid tribute to late country greats, including Don Williams and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band, and played a song by the latter in honor of Allman.
One of Aldean’s most memorable performances of the night was “Tattoos on This Town,” where he executed many impressive runs and easily transferred between the equally rich higher and lower registers of his voice. Other standout performances infused with guitar solos worthy of a rock show included “Hicktown,” “Dirt Road Anthem” and “She’s Country.” It was clear that Aldean enjoyed singing the last song of his show as much as the crowd enjoyed belting the lyrics with him.
Near the end of the song, Aldean sings, “She’s all about the country.” I think it is safe to say the audience was “all about” Aldean’s country and the way he connects with his fans.
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