- Rascal Rooney.
Outside of the occasional momentum-breaking chats with the audience, young country superstars Rascal Flatts had a crowd of 14,119 fans whooping and hollering last Friday night.
On a stage that looked more like a rock group’s setup, with glaring lights, heavy smoke and pyrotechnics, the guys made a surprising choice of an opening number with “Where You Are.” But it didn’t take long to get the crowd into the show with hits “Everyday Love” and “I Melt.”
The excitement slowed when Jay DeMarcus chatted with the fans for too long. A reprieve came with their big pop-country hit “Love You Out Loud,” followed by a sampling from their new album due out April 4, “What Hurts the Most.”
Unfortunately what followed was a lengthy drum battle, a rendition of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” sung by DeMarcus, and a solo attempt by Joe Don Rooney of Vince Gill’s “Liza Jane.”
Gary LeVox went missing in action during the battle of the drums and stayed gone while DeMarcus showed off more of his instrumental talent with piano accompaniment to “Liza Jane.”
LeVox finally retook the stage in Razorback headgear and proceeded to “call the Hogs.”
And from there, the show regained its gusto as LeVox sang the opening lines of the popular tune “Mayberry.” The guys huddled at the end of the stage, which suddenly rose above the crowd and literally floated to the opposite end of the arena. Once there, Rascal Flatts let the audience in back come down to the empty floor now in front of them. They joked about which song to play next, including a phony song that DeMarcus sang to one lucky girl in the audience.
The chemistry between the three guys was obvious, reflected in their fabulous harmonies, which were showcased especially well in the song “Sarah Beth (Skin).”
LeVox made another exit while DeMarcus performed Elton John’s “Rocketman” on the piano. When LeVox returned, the boys gave a powerful rendition of “God Bless the Broken Road,” then finished as powerfully with “Feels Like Today” and “Fast Cars and Freedom.”
Rascal Flatts has enjoyed a wealth of fame in recent years, and it’s obvious the guys know why: Their popularity rests on the range of their fan base. From the 4-year-old girl sitting next to me to the old man tapping along behind us, it was hard not to have a great time. It only seemed appropriate that they finish with “Here’s to You” — a tribute to their following.