Blake Shelton is a silver-tongued devil! What else can explain why thousands of fans sat in the freezing rain to hear him sing at the Great Frederick Fair in rural Maryland on Sept. 26? His rich, deep voice kept us warm and his charming banter and redneck jokes keep us entertained. It was all an illusion, of course – as my next day’s sniffles can attest -- but we ate it up.
A Blake Shelton concert has its mandatory songs, including “Austin,” “Some Beach” and “Ol’ Red”; as well as the recent singles “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” and “I’ll Just Hold On”; and the future single “Green” (or is “Country Strong” the next single? That may still be undecided). Blake didn’t disappoint, performing those Shelton standards with heart and a smile. He didn’t mix it up with different versions – didn’t need to, really – just played what we expected to hear and already loved.
He did offer up a few surprises. “Playboys of the Southwestern World” was a crowd pleaser that put a smile on everyone’s face with its story of the misadventures of two good ol’ boys. And it was fun to hear Blake pay tribute to his country music roots with performances of “Tight Fitting Jeans” and “Goodbye Time.”
But the best surprises showed off the amazing voice that we don’t always appreciate on the less vocally challenging songs that make up his repertoire. The acoustic “Don’t Make Me” squeezed my heart and gave me chills (and no, it wasn’t the weather!). And, of course, “Home,” the song that turned me into a die-hard B.S. fan for life, is one of the best vocal performance I’ve ever heard by a singer in any genre. Performed live, it’s even more proof that Blake is the most under-rated and under-recognized male vocalist in country music. (Being named Mr. Twitter doesn’t count!) Hello, awards panels! Pay attention! Did you HEAR that!
Blake kept the evening rolling with charming chatter about everything from the impending opening of deer hunting season to the lack of beer sales on the fairgrounds, and never seemed to take himself at all seriously. He also seemed quite sincere in his gratitude to the crowd for coming out and sitting in the rain to hear an ol’ redneck sing a few songs.
You’re welcome, Blake. The pleasure was all ours!
And a little hint to die-hard fans. At an outdoor venue, if you get there early enough, you can probably hear the sound check. Blake played Billy Joel’s “My Life” and “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” during this one and both sounded great. Neither song made it into the show later so I consider these bonus tracks! I’ve also heard him perform most of “She Talks to Angels” during a sound check. How I wish he’d add that to his regular set. It is amazing! (You can see a Stripped version on YouTube and the CD/DVD version of “Pure B.S.” Definitely check it out!)
- The More I Drink
- Nobody But Me
- Country Strong
- The Baby
- I’ll Just Hold On
- Goodbye Time
- Playboys Of The Southwestern World
- Acoustic: Don’t Make Me
- Tight Fitting Jeans
- She Wouldn’t Be Gone
- Some Beach
- Encore: Redneck Girl
- Ol' Red