Paisley rocks Gillette Stadium with Aldean, Rucker

A review of Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker at Gillette Stadium on August 21, 2010

, Editor-in-Chief

In his first stadium headlining show, as part of the 7th annual New England Country Music Festival, Brad Paisley delivered a thrilling set for the sold out crowd of over 51,000. It was a great end to a day that was already full of great sets from the likes of Jason Aldean and Darius Rucker.

Dubbed the “H2O Tour”, Paisley fittingly opened the show with his current single “Water”. Continuing the show with fan favorite “Online”, Paisley quickly had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he made his way out onto a catwalk that jetted into the center of the field as he showcased some of his stellar fretwork. “How are you Patriots tonight?”, he asked before delivering “American Saturday Night”, where he jovially changed the lyrics to “Live From Boston, It’s Saturday Night”.

Paisley was clearly happy to be in Foxboro. He beamed with a smile as he declared at one point, “One of the greatest country cities in the world, Boston, Massachusetts” before later in the night acknowledging, “This right here, is the highlight of my summer.” Paisley’s transition from arena/amphitheaters to Gillette Stadium was seamless, probably due the fact that he’s so likable. The 20-song set featured a perfect blend of ballads for the ladies (“She’s Everything” and “Then”) and anthems for the fellas (“I’m Still A Guy” and “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)). Of course, many more of the tunes were also laced with good humor and he even brought out a mascot of himself for “Celebrity”.

During “Catch All The Fish”, he literally made his way through the crowd as he walked (while playing) to small stage at the center of the field. There, he delivered a solo acoustic take on “Letter To Me”, complete with a tag-on of the theme from “Cheers”. He returned back to the main stage via the crowd for fan favorite “Mud On The Tires”.

Throughout the show, Paisley proved to be an exceptional guitarist. Like Vince Gill before him, the Nashville star has unfortunately gone under the radar by many because of his genre. Armed with several Fender Telecasters, Paisley filled many of the tunes with impressive solos. During the second half of the set, he led an instrumental jam session that showcased all of his abilities. It also gave time for his ample backing band, who have been with him since he started, to shine in the spotlight while a fun cartoon video displayed on the video screens.

Like he’s done in year’s past, Paisley delivered the heartfelt ballad “Whiskey Lullaby” with a taped video of Alison Krauss. The move made for one of the set’s only disappointing moments, and was made worse with the that thought that Sara Evans was in the house and could have brought her own unique take to the song.

After rocking though “Welcome to the Future”, Paisley slowed it down by ending the main set with “Then” (complete with a giant disco ball that lit up the crowd). Returning for a two-song encore, Paisley got the crowd going again with “Ticks” before “Alcohol” – a great fit for Saturday’s very inebriated crowd – brought the show to a close. Openers Jason Aldean and Darius Rucker joined Paisley’s mascot at bar prop on the side of the stage, yet did not join him in singing the song, which made for another oddly wasted opportunity.

In the primary support slot was Aldean, the fast rising country rocker from Georgia. He opened his set with “Crazy Town,” a fast rocking take at the music scene in Nashville and arguably one of the best songs of the year. Aldean worked the massive stage and catwalk with ease during his hour-long/15-song set, which included all of his singles over three albums. Highlights included crowd favorites “Amarillo Sky”, “Johnny Cash” and “Relentless”. He thanked the crowd for his biggest year yet before delivering his biggest hit to date, “Big Green Tractor”.

Aldean also took time to preview of his forthcoming album My Kinda Party, by delivering its title track, which will also serve as its lead single. While Aldean can deliver the ballads (like “The Truth”), he’s at his best when he’s rocking the faster songs, which really prove the prominence of his southern rock influences. The rocking ways worked just fine, especially on “She’s Country” and “Hicktown”, which led into the set closer, a cover of Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”.

Rucker packed ten songs into his 45-minute set, which was simply too short. Opening with “Forever Road”, the crowd was quick to rise to their feet for the former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman. He continued with “Only Wanna Be With You”, one of three Hootie songs teh now country star would perform (the others being “Let Her Cry” and “Hold My Hand”). From his debut country album, Learn to Live, Rucker delivered “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Alright”, each of which sparked sing-alongs equal to that of his old pop-rock hits. He also took time to preview his forthcoming album, Charleston, SC 1966, with is lead single “Come Back Song”. For covers, he pulled from both sides of his musical spectrum. First was the Hank Williams’ classic “Family Tradition” and then to close the main set, he delivered a surprising yet satisfying take on Prince’s “Purple Rain”.

Fans began filling into the stadium towards the end of Sara Evans set, which was a repeat of her ten-song hit parade (including “Born To Fly”, “Suds In the Bucket” and “I Could Not Ask For More”) that she delivered at the Comcast Center only one week earlier when opening for Brooks & Dunn. Kicking the show off was Easton Corbin, best known for his hit singles “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It.”

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