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Montgomery Rides His Range Country Star Shows Off His Brand Of Powerful, Romantic Vocals At Arena Concert

John Michael Montgomery Friday, Sept. 12, Arena

Country hunk John Michael Montgomery, flashing his trademark dimpled grin all night long, romanced fans Friday at the Arena with one love song after another.

On 1994’s “I Swear,” he leaned over and held a young woman’s hand while singing to her alone. Toward the end of the ballad, he dropped to his knees and kissed her.

He then walked to the other side of the stage for the big finish, tipping his hat and saying, “That’s still one of my favorite songs.”

On “I Can Love You Like That,” he crooned to a group of eager young women at the right side of the stage, and they all sang along.

One of the highlights was the debut of his upcoming single, “Angel In My Eyes,” which will be on his greatest hits package coming this fall.

Montgomery showed the strength and range of his voice on “How Was I To Know,” the current hit off his fourth album, “What I Do The Best.” For a big man with a deep voice, he sure can reach some high notes.

His singing was just as powerful on “I Love The Way You Love Me.” With his acoustic guitar slung across his back, Montgomery gripped the mike with both hands and belted out the heartfelt ballad.

But he seemed to strain on “I Miss You A Little,” singing with more power and emotion than on his latest album. Still, the song touched the crowd.

The Kentuckian loves to rock out, too. With his yellow shirt sleeves rolled up, Montgomery and his seven-piece band opened their set with “Kickin’ It Up” and got the crowd up with “Life’s A Dance.”

On a couple of rockers, one gray-haired woman did a great imitation of a punk-loving headbanger. I thought she’d need a neck brace after such fierce head bobbing.

“Beer and Bones,” “Friday at Five,” “Cowboy Love” and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” also rocked the house. The keyboardist kicked butt on “Friday At Five,” and Montgomery worked up such a sweat on “Cowboy Love,” he had to get a dry hat.

At the end of his only encore, Montgomery and crew banged out a long and loud rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” with Montgomery wailing on his guitar while prowling the stage. He dropped to his knees to bang out the final notes and end the concert.

The first two acts nearly stole the show.

Kevin Sharp, backed by a six-piece band, jumped onto the floor and wandered all over the Arena to hug and dance with fans while opening with “Measure of a Man.” He also wowed the crowd with his two big hits, “Nobody Knows” and “She’s Sure Taking It Well.” Whenever he gyrated his hips, the crowd howled.

Ricochet’s slick act followed. The energetic group played a super set and got people dancing with rollicking rock on “Blink Of An Eye, “You Still Got It” and others.

All in all, it was a fine evening of country music.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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