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Mark Chestnutt Whips Fans Wild

Mark Chesnutt Tuesday night, Oct. 28, at the Arena

Mark Chesnutt uncorked hit after hit during a jam-packed Arena concert Tuesday night, but the crowd didn’t howl much until his band started cooking on his trademark honky tonk.

Though he opened with “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” and “Goin’ Through The Big D” and got folks stirred up, Chesnutt and his fine seven-member band stood with their boots seemingly nailed to the stage for an hour.

They ran through many of Chesnutt’s big old hits about drinking, divorce and love gone sour, including the great ballad “Too Cold At Home,” and a medley of others.

The smoke machine and lights gave the place a good bar feel, perfect for his honky tonkin’ “Brother Jukebox” and “Blame It On Texas.”

Talking about his new album, Chesnutt said “soon as we learn them new songs, we’ll come back and play ‘em.” A bit later, though, he introduced a couple of those tunes with a disclaimer: “If you bought the album, you’ll hear the goof-ups.”

Nonetheless, both the Texas swing number “Goodbye Heartache” and the album’s title song “Thank God For Believers” came off well, though not as polished as the older hits. But the band hit the mark on “Hello Honky Tonk,” also off the new disc, and got fans juiced for more.

After sitting on a stool for a couple of fine ballads, including a tight rendition of “Let It Rain,” Chesnutt finally cut loose an hour into his set.

His bass player switched over to accordion, another player picked up the six-string bass, and the band started dancing around the stage to “It’s A Little Too Late,” launching a Cajun-flavored hoedown in the seats. With solos on fiddle, steel guitar, lead guitar and keyboards, those players strutted their stuff, wandering around the stage and teasing the crowd.

They kept the heat high with “It Sure Is Monday” and “Gonna Get A Life,” ending to a deafening ovation. Chesnutt returned and left the crowd happy with a five-song encore.

Andy Childs opened the concert with lots of humor and a solo acoustic guitar set that included such chestnuts as “Wichita Lineman” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as well as some of Childs’ compositions.

He sang a duet with himself on “Always On My Mind,” first imitating Elvis and then a high-pitched Willie Nelson. Childs also got folks laughing with the crack: “I have so much respect for Mark Chesnutt, I’m going to let him close my show.”

, DataTimes

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