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Time well spent

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PAISLEY: Fast and fun.
  • PAISLEY: Fast and fun.

Brad Paisley and Sara Evans

Alltel Arena

April 28

The crowd last Friday night at Alltel Arena’s Brad Paisley and Sara Evans concert ranged from the teeny-bopping city kids who came to hear the CMT hits to those who probably piled up in the truck and rolled down from the hills to hear some real guitar pickin’.

While Sara Evans might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and the favorite among the kids, her music was a little too much pop and not enough country. Her vocals were impressive, and she had a few really fun, upbeat songs, like her hit “Coalmine,” during which she pulled a young audience member onstage, but most were slower songs that really could have been played on any pop radio station.

Brad Paisley’s performance, though, was what I was really hoping to see. Most of his songs were fast and fun. He knew how to move across the stage and interact with the audience, throwing a never-ending supply of guitar picks to them. The show even stopped for a good three minutes when he asked the stadium to show him how to call the Hogs, and of course we couldn’t let him down. He was a great entertainer and, what seems to be missing more and more in mainstream music today, a great musician.

Alltel was more full than I had seen it in a while, with a crowd of 6,109 fans — Paisley’s attendance here was about on par with his shows elsewhere — and just about everyone was up on their feet and dancing for the musical highlight of the show, when Paisley and his band of drums, violin, pedal steel and two guitars gave an instrumental performance completely devoid of any pop influence. They were all extremely talented musicians, and the crowd, no matter what age, absolutely loved it.

Most of Paisley’s setlist went to promote his latest album, “Time Well Wasted.” Of course he played all the hits from it and even some from “Mud on the Tires,” including “Whiskey Lullaby,” featuring a duet with bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss singing along on a giant screen behind him. And while we weren’t lucky enough to get Dolly Parton for “When I Get Where I’m Going,” we got to watch on the screen a beautiful series of images of passed national heroes, beginning with Johnny Cash, and ending with the recently deceased country music legend, Buck Owens.

To the left and right of the stage were two other enormous screens that were very helpful to those of us without floor seats, to see the singers close up. Without a bad seat in the house, I think most were satisfied with their Friday night spent with Evans and Paisley. Evans, being a big enough star to headline the show herself, opened it up for us with some amazing vocals and Paisley brought it home with something to dance to.

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