Brad Paisley is the master of the one-word song title, including “Alcohol,” “Ticks,” “Water,” “Online”and “Celebrity” and during this American Saturday night at Cruzan Amphitheater he flew through them in a 24-song set.
So, mirroring Paisley's ability to say so much with so little, we'll give a categorized one-word review.
Video: Once again, pictures told the story. Where else would you see a video of a choir, superheroes, and, of course, ticks. The largest dang screen you've ever seen engulfed Paisley.
While one could argue that he's at the top of country right now (Luke Bryan could easily poke a hole in that one), you can't argue about his video production, staging and the people who put on his show. There are none better.
Sweaty: As you'd expect from an August night in Florida, all four acts were dripping by the end. But the good part is, it proved to be yet another Saturday night with storms merely flirting all around, but not even close to zapping out the show. The bad news is, the humidity semed to approach 90 percent, and Paisley even noted he could see the humidity in the spotlights.
Openers: Randy Houser turned up the crowd energy instantaneously, with his zero-to-65 voice. He can sing so effortlessly that even cranking it up is easy for him. Before that, Leah Turner drenched herself in sweat as she took a stance tougher than even the toughest women out there (Miranda Lambert). And Charlie Worsham earns respect on this line alone: “You're not hearing me much on the radio but I play country music. My name is Charlie Worsham and some day I'm going to headline at this place.” You gotta admire that.
Holograms: Carrie Underwood couldn't have appeared more lifelike in her duet with Paisley, “Remind Me.” Her gestures toward Paisley were believable, and her appearance and gestures (timed perfectly with Paisley's singing) just kind of stopped you.
Homage: Paisley touched all the themes, with the late Andy Griffith on video getting big applause for his part in “Waitin' on a Woman,” and everyone from Garth to Reba to Tammy Wynette in “This is Country Music.” As Paisley's video did last year, the final image on the screen to that song was George Jones.
Seats: Didn't need 'em. No one sat down during Paisley's set, partially because he has a songbook now so thick that everyone knows the words to every song. Houser had 'em on their feet, too.
Busted: Paisley said he'd “take a break from the set list” to sing “When I Get Where I'm Going,” referring to how “we lost someone I got to know this year,” and ended it with a photo of Robin Williams as Paisley tipped his white cowboy hat. Problem was, he did the same thing in Tampa on Friday night. It was nice, even if he hadn't given us that “departure” comment. Paisley was part of a storyline on Williams' “The Crazy Ones” TV show this spring, when a staffer recruited him to sing a jingle.
Rapid: Paisley barely paused for a breath during his entire set, opening with "Moonshine in the Trunk," the title song of his new album, then zipping through "Ticks," "American Saturday Night" and "Celebrity," my personal favorite. The plan was to have him take the stage at 9 p.m., but he didn't hit it until 9:15. Cruzan must end all shows by 11 p.m., so my hypothesis is he just didn't take the time to talk. He finished at 10:52.
Cheese: Paisley's tour was sponsored by Kraft. If his next song is called "Velveeta," you'll know they got to him.
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