Saturday Night: Rascal Flatts and Kellie Pickler | Rock Candy

Saturday Night: Rascal Flatts and Kellie Pickler

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Gary LeVox. Photo courtesy of Nelson Chenault.
Rascal Flatts
Alltel Arena, March 1

Rascal Flatts may not be everybody’s idea of country, but you won’t get any argument from the 11,361 passionate fans on hand Saturday night at Alltel Arena for the group’s electrifying show.
As Rascal Flatts, lead singer Gary LeVox, bassist Jay DeMarcus and perennial ladies’ favorite Joe Don Rooney have hit it big with pop-flavored rockers (and, frankly, more than enough sentimental — if not downright sappy — ballads) that have been a mainstay on country radio the past several years. And no matter how you try to define or classify the trio’s music, you can’t deny their success and their ability to put on a great show.
Playing just under two hours, the guys packed in plenty of music amid a spectacular exhibition of colorful special effects, lights, smoke and videos on this stop on their Still Feels Good Tour. They’re known for crowd-pleasing performances and soaring harmonies, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
The crowd sang along on almost every song, from smash hits like “These Days,” “Bless the Broken Road” and “What Hurts the Most,” to those from the group’s latest CD, such as “Take Me There” and “Still Feels Good.”
Along the way the guys threw in the humorous “Backwards,” about what you get when you play a country song in reverse; they took turns appearing on a main stage and a smaller one in the back they accessed via a platform that was raised and lowered as needed; and LeVox escorted a little girl on stage during “My Wish.” Rooney, the lanky, blond-haired guitarist who always has his female fans swooning, got to show off his skills with a pounding version of “American Woman.”
Kellie Pickler, who came to fame in 2006 as an “American Idol” contestant, opened the show with an eight-song, 37-minute set that was almost as tight as her faded jeans. She’s a cutie who can belt ’em out as she showed on her new single “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind,” “Small Town Girl” and “Red High Heels.”
Pickler is a former Miss North Carolina contestant whose stage presence reminds you a little of beauty pageants, but don’t let that fool you. She knows her way around country music. Her cover of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” was a crowd-pleaser as was the touching personal ballad “I Wonder.” “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” was also a fine showcase of her vocal strength.
Bill Paddack

More pics below.
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Joe Don Rooney. Photo courtesy of Nelson Chenault.

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Kellie Pickler. Photo courtesy of Nelson Chenault.

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