Concert Reviews

When You're Blake Shelton, You Can Still Please an Arena Crowd While Battling the Flu

Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins compete in a song-off.
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins compete in a song-off. Paige Skinner

Is Blake Shelton good enough to put on a great show while recovering from the flu?

When you're arguably country music's only A-lister and People's Sexiest Man Alive and, well, just a solid performer, you can do just about anything.

Shelton headlined the Country Music Freaks tour Saturday night at the American Airlines Center with Carly Pearce, Brett Eldredge and Trace Adkins accompanying him. After Shelton began his set with a few songs, he stopped to tell the crowd that Thursday night when he played the Houston Rodeo, he had the flu. "But today, I don't have the flu." The crowd cheered.

"My voice sucks today, but I don't have much pride anyway, so I'm gonna stand out here and sing as many songs as I can," Shelton admitted to the crowd.

Our friends at the Houston Press wrote that they couldn't much tell a difference with Shelton's performance because he hung in there like a champ. And Saturday night's performance proved pretty much the same. Yeah, his voice couldn't quite handle the longer notes (His encore of "God Gave Me You" was especially tough) and some of his jokes fell flat, but dammit, when you're Blake Shelton and you're selling concert tickets to fans sitting behind the stage, there's not much you can do to disappoint.

Carly Pearce and Brett Eldredge opened the night, and Trace Adkins acted as the night's special guest. About halfway through Shelton's set, Adkins relieved Shelton and sang his hits, like "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," "You're Gonna Miss This" and "Ladies Love Country Boys." Then after only a few songs from Adkins, Shelton made his way back onstage to compete with Adkins in a "song-off" ("Like a 'playoff,' but I changed the word, so now it's a song-off," Shelton told the crowd). They went back and forth, singing some of their popular hits, as well as an asshole song, where they jokingly ribbed each other about being an asshole.

"If this doesn't fit in with what's on the radio right now, that's OK. Actually," Shelton paused, "it will probably piss me off."

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Adkins finished his time on stage by singing "Hillbilly Bone," his 2009 duet with Shelton.

A Blake Shelton concert isn't moving and there aren't any tender moments — even when he sang his encore, "God Gave Me You," a romantic song, it was still loud and powerful and people still scream-sang at the top of their lungs. But no one there seemed to miss any kind of soft moments. The closest Shelton got to any kind of vulnerability was when he confessed to the crowd that he hopes his newest single, "I Lived It" would be popular.

"If this doesn't fit in with what's on the radio right now, that's OK. Actually," Shelton paused, "it will probably piss me off."

The mostly middle-aged couples (most Blake Shelton concertgoers are old enough to drink) didn't seem to mind any lack of softness from the 6-foot-5-inch superstar. It was just another rowdy night with their favorite Voice coach.

Shelton finished out the second half of his set with "A Guy With A Girl," when he instructed the audience to wave their arms in the air — "Do that stupid thing Rascal Flatts does." During his performance of 2004's "Some Beach," a song about people just ruining your day, Shelton took a moment after singing the lines about a bad dentist trip, "Then he stuck that needle down deep in my gum/And he started drilling before I was numb." The music paused as Shelton stepped away from the mic, grabbing his jaw to re-enact the bad day in the song. "Mouther fucker," he mouthed to the crowd. "Fuck you."
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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner