by Bill Paddack
From commanding vocals and tight harmonies to fine instrumentation, there’s not much The Zac Brown Band doesn’t do — and do well. And now, thanks to its current tour, you can add flying to the list. Well, at least sailing suspended over the audience via harnesses and cables.
As if they haven’t done enough high flying the past couple of years on the country music charts (seven No. 1 hits at last count), Brown and his band mates took to the air at times Saturday night at Verizon arena, literally delivering the music to the 12,461 fans in attendance. Ah, what Brown can — and will — do for you.
More after the jump.
It was a great addition for a group that’s known for combining a variety of styles in its music. There’s country and Southern rock and folk and a whole lot of joy. That was evident from the start as ZBB quickly engaged the crowd with hits like “Keep Me in Mind” and “Knee Deep” and along the way thrilled with new songs from an album due this summer and outstanding covers of classic standards, such as Pure Prairie League’s “Amie” and Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”
Of these, a terrific version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was not only a crowd favorite but a standout performance that you have to think would make The Charlie Daniels Band proud.
With a beard, an always-present signature knit beanie cap, a big smile and a powerful voice, Brown likes to talk and sing about a state of mind. Perhaps no other song sums up his outlook better than “No Hurry,” which, with lines like “an old cane fishing pole, “the smell of early spring” and a “fold-up easy chair” conjures the feeling of a lazy day on the side of a river. Of course, come to think of it, “Toes” — with “not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand” — might come close.
Saving the best for last, in its encore ZBB paired “America the Beautiful” with the always popular and fun “Chicken Fried,” preceded by the sentimental, almost haunting ballad “Colder Weather” and a great cover of The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.” A fine ending and an outstanding way to say “adios and vaya con Dios” to the guys from “GA.”
Nic Cowan, with a gritty voice and a lot of tattoos, opened the show with a nice batch of songs off his “Hardheaded” album. He’s one of the performers on Brown’s own Southern Ground Artists record label. Cowan was followed by the enormously talented Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, featuring Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and the energetic sounds he can produce on a trombone and a trumpet.