Concert Reviews

Blake Shelton Was Unapologetically Country at Gexa Energy Pavilion

Blake Shelton With the Band Perry and Neil McCoy Gexa Energy Pavilion Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday night was the first official night of summer and to celebrate some of country music's biggest contemporary acts performed to a sold-out crowd at Gexa Energy Pavilion. Blake Shelton was the headliner, but he wasn't the only star of the evening. Fully impressive amongst the openers was the Band Perry. The fact that this trio isn't headlining its own shows yet is astonishing; on Saturday, they proved why they deserve to make the step up.

With so many songs worthy of a performance, the Band Perry couldn't even fit all of their singles into their allotted set time -- "Postcard From Paris" and "Hip to My Heart" from their debut album being two of those. Highlights from what did make it into their set included "Done" and "Better Dig Two," where the siblings accompanied their vocals and instrument-playing with some choreographed moves. Each of their head turns and fist pumps were perfectly synched with one another and toward the end of "Better Dig Two," the three banged on some drums while strobe lights hit the stage -- a fairly rare site in country music.

All three siblings know how to command a stage, but lead singer Kimberly is country music's very own Beyoncé. She flips her curly hair perfectly on beat, struts across the stage in towering high heels, and sings every note as flawlessly as the one before. Her brothers, Neil and Reid, serve as the bass and guitar players while also singing backup. However, Neil took the lead during their cover of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls," something that helped get the older crowd members to stand up and dance. This group has enough stamina and actual hit songs -- singles or not -- to headline their own tour.

When it was finally time for Shelton, the sun had set and the crowd was buzzing with excitement -- or just buzzed from their beer. He began with "It's All About Tonight" and "The More I Drink," songs fitting for a tour that's called "Ten Times Crazier." If you don't know, Shelton is a hot mess drinker drunk and seems to sing about it just as often as he's drinking some kind of preferred poison.

During the entire show, Shelton would regularly take large gulps from his merchandise cup and toast to the crowd. Whether it was filled with alcohol or just water, we may never know.

A Blake Shelton show might be the embodiment of how outsiders stereotypically view country music. With songs like "Hillbilly Bone" and "Kiss My Country Ass," no one wonders what the Oklahoma native is about. He kills his own dinner and drives his own pickup truck. And if someone doesn't like the hillbilly in him then, well, you guessed it -- you can kiss his country ass. But whether you know him by his music or as his coaching role on NBC's The Voice, Shelton is at least always entertaining.

He was 2012's Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year and he backed that title up Saturday night playing many of his newer hits, including "Boys 'Round Here" and "My Eyes." But he also paid tribute to his nearly decade-old hits. Before "Some Beach," he put on a cowboy hat with an attached mullet wig to remind the audience of his earlier longhaired singing days.

As light-hearted and down-for-a-good-time as Shelton may be, things got emotional as he moved closer to the crowd to sing with just his guitar. He sang "Over You," a tearjerker written by Shelton and recorded by his wife, Miranda Lambert, about losing his brother to a car wreck. Fans stood for this slow song as Shelton, for the first time in the night, let the lyrics steal the show. However, after rumors circulated earlier in the day that Lambert was in town, the crowd sort of held their breath, half-expecting Lambert to appear and sing alongside him.

She didn't make it out for that one, but three songs later there was a roar from the crowd after just a tiny glance of her platinum blonde hair. She appeared to sing her hit "Baggage Claim," sans her husband. Shelton made his way back on stage, but Lambert didn't leave until the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to the recently turned 21-year-old "Mr. Lambert" -- the age she jokingly told the crowd and the name she addressed him with in the song.

Shelton threw in a cover of Michael Buble's "Home," at which point almost everyone in the crowd held up their iPhone flashlight app -- only some had actual lighters -- and swayed in the summer darkness. It was simply stunning. Missing from Shelton's setlist, however, was "Over," a 2012 hit, but he made up for it with his rendition of "Footloose" during his encore. After his final encore, "God Gave Me You," Shelton held up his glass one last time as the lights went down and the crowd cheered.

Setlist: "It's All About Tonight" "The More I Drink" "She Wouldn't Be Gone" "Doin' What She Likes" "Kiss My Country Ass" "Mine Would Be You" "Nobody But Me" "Some Beach" "Ol' Red" "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking" "Hillbilly Bone" "Sure Would Be Cool If You Did" "My Eyes" "Over You" "Austin" "Drink On It" "Baggage Claim" (Miranda Lambert guest appearance) "Home" "Honey Bee" "Boys 'Round Here"

Encore: "Footloose" "God Gave Me You"

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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner