“In about fifteen minutes, winter officially starts” Country showman Brad Paisley joked to a lively New England crowd this past Saturday night. “But I hope this summer, was the best summer of all your lives” Paisley wished upon the audience on the second-to-last night of his Live Amplified summer Tour.
Indeed, the weather was frigid, but Brad Paisley’s Live Amplified Tour turned up the heat at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts on Saturday September 24th.
Country singer Tyler Farr and Country duo Maddie + Tae also performed.
As gates of the Xfinity Center opened mid afternoon for the last time this year, bodies began pouring into the parking lot prepared for an afternoon of partying followed by an evening of Country music. As empty bottles rolled the pavement, Mansfield’s finest made their way from dropped tailgates and into Xfinity’s amphitheater.
Beloved Country duo Maddie & Tae jump started the night properly with their upbeat backyard country jam ‘Shut Up and Fish’.
Between (and during) songs, the duo let their amiable personalities show as they took selfies and signed items for fans. Their harmonious style was evident with their pop Country ballad ‘Fly’, during which a young fan was invited onstage to sing the final chorus.
Of course, the crowd lit up as they strummed out 2013’s debut single ‘Girl in a Country Song’.
Maddie & Tae provided a fresh dynamic to an otherwise standard country lineup.
As the night progressed the temperature continued its decline.
Though not an overly exuberant performer, Tyler Farr was far from boring.
Protecting himself from New England’s weather, Tyler Farr, nested in a winter jacket, Ray Bans, and ball cap, introduced himself to the show with 2015’s Suffer in Peace’s lead off track ‘C.O.U.N.T.R.Y’. Farr’s voice sounded particularly good especially coming off of vocal surgery.
Farr kept frisky New Englanders engaged in between tunes by referencing Colin Kaepernick.
Farr strategically spread out his three singles while filling in the blanks with audience engagement in the same realm of Maddie + Tae.
‘Whiskey in My Water’ received a loud reaction while stirring the crowd. He also conducted his own rendition of party jam ‘Your Love’, originally performed by The Outfield. 2014 single ‘Redneck Crazy’ sustained the energy until ‘A Guy Walks Into A Bar’ closed the performance.
Finally, right around the nine o’clock hour, the stringed strategist Brad Paisley injected real life into the night. As his hit record suggests, he made this American Saturday Night truly special. The lights went low and 2001: A Space Odyssey busted through the speakers eventually breaking to 2014’s Moonshine In The Trunk’s opener ‘Crushin’ It’.
Paisley set the tone for his performance and picked up the night’s slack with profound production consisting of high definition visuals, a stellar light show and a top-notch sounding performance. To top it off, he also had two functioning bars located on each side of the stage where VIP fans could lounge while sippin’ on a brew – all within arms length of Paisley’s band.
Newly released single ‘Without a Fight’ featured a digital duet with Demi Lovato – bringing in a large roar from the Top 40 demographic.
As his set just begin to take form, no beat was missed as Paisley and his band pummeled through a catalog of classics and fresh crowd pleasers: Water, Online (which featured a Jacoby Brissett touchdown run from Thursday Night Football), This is Country Music, She’s Everything, Country Nation and many more.
The Country superstar had a few brief tech issues but seamlessly transitioned through them with veteran instinct – casually replacing defective guitars with ease. Paisley also took a moment to personally greet a handful of veterans in attendance. His iconic cowboy hat was knocked off as he embraced the service women and men.
Paisley brought back openers Maddie + Tae on stormy ballad ‘Whiskey Lullabye’ in which the studio version includes vocals by Country singer Alison Krauss.
The returns continued as Tyler Farr walked out to guest on ‘I’m Still A Guy’. According to Paisley, night after night on tour, Farr continues to screw up the lyrics to the track. To assist, Paisley sent out two roadies to hold up cue cards with misspelled words for Farr to read from. In return, Farr publicly presented Paisley with an end-of-tour gift of a fishing reel.
One of Paisley’s highlights was his journey through the crowd to Xfinity’s intimate soundboard stage where he acoustically performed wedding favorite, ‘Then’. Lots of kissing happening at this point.
The song Celebrity, which was never a true stand alone track, was on the set list but Paisley made it worthwhile by broadcasting a South Park montage over screens. Bursts of laughter overpowered sing-alongs on this number.
During 2011’s love song ‘Remind Me’, Country sensation Carrie Underwood appeared on screen as a pre-recorded bit where she sang her half of the duet while pulling in a huge reaction from the audience.
Off-roading love song ‘Mud on the Tires’ concluded his performance…
Until his encore saw the band return to end the night with sing along drinking anthem ‘Alcohol’.
What stood out so clearly, was Paisley’s understanding of the crowd. Not every artist can cater to the various makeup of an audience. . Like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Paisley caters to an audience in a very strategic way – creating a relationship with them through a combination of brilliant-performance tactics: flawless song transitions, hometown compliments, crowd relations, bringing the crowd up high and down low in story-like fashion.
I consider Paisley a ‘master’ because he handles all aspects of live performance in a seasoned manner. From his guitar playing to his knack for the business, he covers all the bases. The new faces of Country and even some established acts of today can all learn something from how Paisley plays the field in addition to that smoking telecaster.
Look for Brad Paisley this fall as he embarks on a brief ‘Country Nation College Tour’.