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Brad Paisley w/ The Band Perry and Scotty McCreery @ The Bradley Center

Jan. 13, 2012

Jan. 17, 2012
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Brad Paisley has something for most every country fan. His virtuosic guitar runs are considered to be a man thing, while his many up-tempo numbers please couples who enjoy boot-scootin' country dance bars. And his overall nice-fella persona and boyish handsomeness give the married father an edge with a large female contingent—no surprise, then, that women made up at least a slight majority of his Bradley Center crowd Friday.

Paisley played to his strengths in his 21-song set, running through most of his radio hits; he backed up many of them with videos that reinforced his image as a genial populist who sees no contradiction in embracing rural roots and the technological opportunities afforded by urban modernity.

Those qualities come together best when they elicit combinations of laughter and empathy. He suggests that folks wishing to exhibit Southern pride without resorting to Confederate flags sport "Camouflage," but woe to the wife who comes between a man and his fishing boat, as Paisley jokingly addresses on "I'm Gonna Miss Her." The emotional geography of life in the 'burbs and the big city doesn't escape his gaze, either. Going "Online" can open up a world of prevarication to attract a mate, and he skewers the "famous for being famous" phenomenon furthered by reality TV on "Celebrity."

A romantic streak runs through Paisley as well, as on the wry "Waitin' on a Woman" and the more broadly sentimental "Remind Me," where Carrie Underwood showed up for her half of the duet via video.

Joining the headliner for a live duet of "Whiskey Lullaby" was Kimberly Perry of opening act The Band Perry. Perry didn't quite capture the devastating sorrow that Alison Krauss did on the original. Another slight deficit of Paisley's ample set was that his fretboard shredding was so extensive that it made some of his peppier numbers, such as the earthily humane "Welcome to the Future" and the cultural melting pot of "American Saturday Night," sound a tad too similar. Overall, however, Paisley makes a strong case for mainstream country not having to abandon its soul in order to keep up with Nashville's commercial expectations.

The young siblings of The Band Perry lean more toward the poppier end of country, so much so that remakes of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" didn't seem out of character from their originals. Oddly enough, the trio is also responsible for one of the most traditionally country, if strangest, of pop crossover smashes in recent memory, "If I Die Young." Tunes like "All Your Life" and "You Lie" also bode well for a group looking to grow beyond a single hit.

Opener Scotty McCreery's 2011 "American Idol" win probably hastened a major label career that could have naturally come his way. He's a likable teen who sings age-appropriate ditties in a bass-baritone seemingly beyond his years. Maturation and developing a unique personality, as Paisley has, should raise the odds of maintaining his platinum sales streak. McCreery was warmly received during his set and a couple of numbers assisting the headliner.


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