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Review: The Band Perry at Cruzan Amphitheater

Three young acts in the country scene closed out the WIRK Rib Round Up Saturday night: the first two performers, Scotty McCreery and Easton Corbin, gave us plenty of solid country. Then came the headline band, with flashing lights, thump-thump-thumping and running all over the stage.

That would be The Band Perry, which demonstrated how wide a berth country fans are giving acts. It was no surprise, but it certainly contrasted McCreery and Corbin Saturday.

Kimberly Perry introduced her show as "one part therapy, two parts recess," and referenced the band's quick rise to headliner status by noting the last time they were at the Cruzan Amphitheater in West Palm Beach it was as an opening act.

Perry, 30, is the frontwoman, and if you need more proof of how vital birth order is, you need to look no further. Shaggy-haired younger brothers, Reid and Neil, got less than one-fourth of the face time combined on the video monitors.

That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The blonde, impossibly fit Perry looks like the hot aerobics teacher at your local fitness center, and tousles her hair every bit as much. She brings the energy, sings her ass off and appears to be having fun -- even though it's gotta hurt to move as much as she does in those high heels.

I personally just didn't buy parts of it, finding her dedication of their "Pioneer" to Americans -- and the prelude of the violin player performing The Star-Spangled Banner just too cloying. Same goes for her prefacing "Pioneer" by explaining the lyrics and its theme of "Never Quit." It felt like bad Tony Robbins.

Her "Amazing Grace," though, felt sincere, and capped a night of what could be the cleanest country show ever: No swearing, no sex talk, and probably not even a mention of getting drunk.

McCreery, 20, showed that "American Idol" voters made the right choice when they picked him the winner in 2011. His signature bass is what separates him and makes him distinctive; but even without that, you could argue that he would have made it.

One worry, though, is what will McCreery sing about five years from now, especially since he's at the point where he needs his own songs? He'll never get into a speck of trouble, beer is still a four-letter word to him, and his head is on so straight that he returned to high school for his senior year after winning "American" Idol when he was a junior.

That said, I think he'll figure it out.

Corbin, 31, is where McCreery might be in a few years, and, that, too, is either a good thing or a bad thing. With his button-down collared shirt and breezy style, Corbin, like McCreery, has the young face that looks like has never needed a razor. (And our swooning photographer remarked that he's blessed with "beautiful blue eyes.")

He sings nice songs ("Roll With It," "All Over the Road,"), but, unfortunately, one of the biggest crowd-energy moments came when his band launched into Van Halen's "Jump" as a fake-out way to intro one of his hits. My section all rose to their feet, then stood disappointed.

It was an interesting night for covers all the way around. McCreery gave us Garth Brooks' "Mama Loved Papa" and (less creatively) Tim McGraw's "I Like It, I Love It" and a four-pack from Hank Williams Sr., Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Alabama, while Corbin changed up Alan Jackson's "Where I Come From" effectively, before semi-whiffing on Blake Shelton's "It's All About Tonight."

More talk about contrast: The Band Perry banged out AC/DC's "Back in Black" and Queen's "Fat-Bottomed Girls." The song was a great choice, especially because Queen's arrangement gave the three Perry siblings a waist-high fastball to harmonize.

The finale, as expected was their "Better Dig Two," which interestingly co-writer Brandy Clark performed last week when she opened for Jennifer Nettles in Hollywood. Clark explained that she had written it more of a love song, but when the Perrys got ahold of it, they darkened it.
Boy, she was right. The Perrys, especially Kimberly, squeezed every bit of drama they could out of it.

Blackjack Billy, Dan + Shay and Love and Theft (that's a lot of "ands") opened the show, which ran for about eight hours, with longer-than-usual breaks (there was a side stage to keep fans entertained), some pretty good rib stations and, as is the norm at Cruzan, plenty of available and friendly servers, ready and waiting with adult beverages.


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