Jason Aldean rocks Fenway Park

A review of Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert at Fenway Park on July 12, 2013

, Editor-in-Chief

Backing his new album Night Train, Jason Aldean rolled into Boston last weekend for a pair of sold out shows at Fenway Park. The country-rocker, who is clearly more of the latter, delivered a high-energy set that balanced new material with his expanding catalogue of hits.

In the world of country music, they seem to hate sub-genres. However, there is no doubt that there are growing amount of artists that are fusing their country and southern rock roots (see Church, Gilbert, etc). Leading the way, by way of not just popularity but by talent too, is Aldean. Its not just that he took the stage to Audioslave’s “Cochise” or that his band clearly have taken more notes from the school of rock than the Grand Ole Oprey, but Aldean’s performance at Fenway as a whole proved he’s more than happy to bring some of the rock world to country.

Opening the show with “Crazy Town”, Aldean quickly found the Fenway Faithful to be in fine form. He matched their energy as the band charged on with “Take A Little Ride”, the first of a handful of new tunes from Night Train he performed. With the help of his backing band, who would prove to be the show’s true locomotive, Aldean balanced the new material with old favorites quite well and kept the pace of the show moving. Among the highlights were “Fly Over States”, the brand new “This Nothin’ Town” and a flashback to his 2005 self-titled debut with “Amarillo Sky”.

The Georgia native was clearly happy to be in Boston and playing the historic ballpark. After “Tattoos On This Town”, Aldean declared how much he and the band had been eagerly looking forward to the big concert. Later in the night as he marveled at the site of Fenway, he reminisced about growing up with posters of Red Sox legend Jim Rice on the wall. Aldean, who performed at the big “Boston Strong” concert in May, also paid tribute the Hub with a slideshow of photos during “The Only Way I Know”.

Not everything worked to perfection. “1994” may be a single, but it may also be Night Train’s worst track. In the live setting, nothing changed. Aldean followed it up with his 80’s power ballad “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, in which he was joined by a 3-D hologram of his duet partner Kelly Clarkson. Much like Brad Paisley did with CW, it’s life-like quality fooled many in the crowd. However, with Miranda Lambert in the house, one couldn’t help but think what she could have done with the song. Too much to ask? Maybe so, but it just seemed like a wasted opportunity.

After “Big Green Tractor”, Aldean dropped his six-string and played the role of frontman. He worked the stage for “The Only Way I Know” before leading the crowd through sing-alongs of smash hits “Dirt Road Anthem” and main-set closer “She’s Country”. “My Kinda Party”, featuring a mini guitar duel, kicked off the 2-song encore. The show came to a lively close with the a rocking take on “Hicktown”, complete with an extended jam. As fireworks capped off the night, Aldean cracked a beer and saluted the crowd to roaring approval.

So country, rock, call it whatever you want. At the end of the day, Aldean is pure entertainment (take note CMA’s) and was the host of one great Friday night party for 30,000 strong.

In the primary support slot was Lambert. A headliner in her own right, the reigning CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year delivered a 60-minute set reminiscent of her show at the Pavilion last summer and the Verizon Wireless Arena earlier this year. Selecting from her four-album catalouge, she mixed her signature brand of emotional ballads and spitfire rockers. Lambert shined through “Over You”, played the fiery frontwoman for “Kerosene” and led the crowd through a sing-along of “The House That Built Me”. Just a couple of days after Sir Paul rocked the same stage, she dared to cover The Beatles’ “Get Back”.

Also on the bill for early arrivals was rising star Jake Owen and prospect Thomas Rhett. In between the sets, DJ Silver kept the party atmosphere rolling. Its a smart move that has paid off in the past and this year was no different as the crowd ate up his mix of country and rock classics (and even obliged with an annoying sing-along of “Sweet Caroline”.

Setlist

1.  Crazy Town
2.  Take a Little Ride
3.  Tattoos On This Town
4.  When She Says Baby
5.  The Truth
6.  Fly Over States
7.  This Nothin’ Town
8.  Amarillo Sky
9.  Johnny Cash
10. Night Train
11. 1994
12. Don’t You Wanna Stay
13. Big Green Tractor
14. The Only Way I Know
15. Dirt Road Anthem
16. She’s Country
Encore
17. My Kinda Party
18. Hicktown

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