Paisley thrills Comcast Center crowd

A review of Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley at the Comcast Center on June 13, 2009

, Contributing Writer

Brad Paisley unleashed his “American Saturday Night” tour at the Comcast Center on Friday night, capitalizing on his biggest hits while introducing the crowd to songs off his soon to be released sixth album of the same name. For a genre of music that some still argue doesn’t have a place in New England, Paisley didn’t have any trouble fitting in as he and his talented band won over the crowd from the opening notes and had them waving their cowboy hats in the air throughout the entire two hour set.

Taking the stage with no fanfare, Paisley casually walked to a Grand Ole Opry microphone stand at the top of the center runway where he was immediately surrounded by fans that were thrilled to see him sporting a Red Sox t-shirt and his trademark white cowboy hat. Starting the show was an acoustic rendition of “Start A Band” a recent hit duet with Keith Urban, before the curtain fell and Paisley was surrounded by his band, video screens, and a very bright light show. The band wasted no time amping up the energy of the crowd as they went full throttle into “American Saturday Night” a celebration of summer, and all that it is to be American. The themes of everyday life, finding happiness in the little things, and being content with what you have run paramount in Paisley’s songs and seemed to be just what the crowd needed as they sang nearly every verse of every song, even the singles from the new album.

Paisley certainly played to the crowd throughout his set, keeping a steady mix of his hits surrounding the introduction of new songs and he even threw in a couple of covers. The set continued with sing-along, comedic songs ‘Online,” “Celebrity,” and the more heartfelt “Waiting On A Woman.” Paisley also sprinkled in a couple of new songs with the fan favorites, dedicating “Water” to “everyone like me who spent every summer soaking wet” and “Do The Math” which began with a completely unexpected partial cover of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” with the chorus of “I Walk The Line” thrown in for good measure.

Keeping the momentum going, Paisley and company got the crowd swaying along with “The World” before switching gears to focus on the guys for awhile with a new song “Catch All The Fish.” The up-tempo tune provided a perfect segue into “I’m Gonna Miss Her” Paisley’s song about choosing fishing over the woman in his life, before closing out the man-pride set with “I’m Still A Guy.”

There is one thing that cannot be argued when it comes to Brad Paisley: he is an amazing guitar player. This fact was showcased throughout the show with seamless guitar solos on one of his many Fender Telecasters. But for all of his skill, Paisley is not a one man show. He has surrounded himself with a back-up band that can actually hold their own with one of the best guitar players that Nashville has ever produced. His band consisted of three guitars, bass, drums, fiddle, steel guitar, and keys and Paisley let them showcase their talent during an extended instrumental solo in the middle of the set.

Paisley shared some his own embarrassing high school photos during “Letter To Me” before being left alone on stage at the top of the center runway. What followed was the emotional highlight with “When I Get Where I’m Going” leading into “Whiskey Lullaby” with Alison Krauss appearing on video and Paisley being illuminated by a single spotlight. Getting back to his comical roots Paisley then played new song “The Pants” which is sure to become a female favorite with lyrics like “You need to know/That ain’t how it works/It’s not who wears the pants/It’s who wears the skirts” and playing to the hometown crowd Paisley closed out his solo set with the theme song to Cheers. Joined by his band “Mud On The Tires” got the crowd singing and dancing, then a partial cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” led to another fan favorite “Ticks” before closing out the regular set with first single off American Saturday Night, the ballad “Then.”

Back on stage minutes later, the encore began with an extended version of “Alcohol” during which Paisley was joined by opening acts Dierks Bentley and Jimmy Wayne and ending the show was a cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” While the choice was surprising, the Paisley reworking of the song proves that there is nothing he can’t do with a guitar in his hand.

During his opening set, Bentley relied more heavily on interaction with the crowd to get him through his set. He certainly isn’t lacking in talent but he knows an easy way to get a loud response from the crowd is to run around high fiving them the whole time and that’s what he did. His set was a nice balance between party anthems like “Sideways” and “What Was I Thinking?” and more emotional ballads like “Every Mile A Memory” and “Come A Little Closer.” Bentley took time to share a beer with one member of the audience, and sat down for popcorn with one lucky lady near the center runway, keeping up the light-hearted party atmosphere which is exactly what you want out of an opening act. Closing out his set was “Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go)” a great summer time, road trip song, which perfectly set the stage for Paisley to do what he does best.

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