Brad Paisley’s North American tour ends tonight in New Jersey, before heading overseas in October
To see Brad Paisley live is to see more than just a music show. Of course, the music takes center stage. But it’s dressed up by Paisley’s wry wit, down-to-earth nature, and fashion sense…for guitars.
This review will be a hard one to write, as I do not want to spoil the fun, clever moments peppered throughout. I’ll just say: A song title parodies Netflix hit Stranger Things, Selfies are taken, and a muppet-like mascot may crash the stage….
Then of course, there were the guitars: I counted at least 16 of them. One glowed dark during an awe-inspiring blacklight rendition of “American Saturday Night.” Another was painted to represent water.
Paisley rarely performed with any one particular guitar for more than a song or two in his over-20 song setlist–an exception being his acoustic set on a “B” stage towards the end of the concert. But the changes were never mentioned. Knowing Paisley’s showmanship, never directly addressing the guitars served two purposes; to silently highlight his unmatched guitar skill, and to add yet another layer of that trademark wry humor. (Who has a guitar with paint splatter, after all?)
The setlist was markedly different from last year’s outing. Of course, staples including “Water,” “Alcohol,” and “Mud on the Tires” were present. But gone were songs including “Love and War,” and “Remind Me.” This year included “Waitin’ on a Woman,” and “Beat this Summer.” A glaring omission was Paisley’s recent radio effort, “Bucked Off.”
Another desire I had was to see more of Paisley’s authentic interactions with his crows. Barreling through his setlist, he rarely stopped to address the crowd, almost like he was uncharacteristically avoiding breaking that “fourth wall.”
The moments he played with the crowd, such as when he and openers Riley Green and Chris Lane joined for a selfie-fied “I’m Still a Guy,” or when he spoke with some kids from the “B” stage before “Letter to Me,” were some of the best moments of the show. I wanted more.
One moment in particular that returned from the last tour was Brad’s salute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. During “This is Country Music,” four battle green-clad service members took the stage.
Let me paint the picture: the show was relatively subdued and the majority not in the GA area sat for most of the show unless they wanted to dance to a certain song (for which I and my knee I screwed up on the beach last week are grateful for, thank-you very much.I’m digressing.) But when the military folks joined Brad on stage, the reaction was swift and immediate: Anyone who could stand, stood. Hats came off.
After touring as a headliner every year since 2005, I would hope the world knows this objective truth by now: Seeing Brad Paisley live is just plain fun–almost too much fun. From his comical videos, to his sense of humor and off-handed hysterical comments, to the extraordinary guitar playing and stacking of his setlist, there is something for everybody.
Hear my words to you: Even if you would not consider yourself a country music fan, see Brad Paisley once in your life, and you will see a classy, all-around showman really is.