Brad Paisley and his two openers brought an end-of-summer feel Saturday night as they completed the final show of their "Crushin' It Tour." Summertime is prime time for country shows, many of which are staged in outdoor venues such as the Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. And Saturday's hint of a cool breeze brought yet one more reminder that, yes, fall is here.
But, boy, what a way to go out, with the sly songs from Paisley, one of country's most humorous headliners. From "Celebrity" to "Ticks" to "Online" to his finale, "Alcohol," Paisley's songs are filled with scenes, phrases and plots that no one else thinks of. Who else would think to rhyme "mild asthmatic" with "sci-fi fanatic?"
He also updated videos of songs he released the past decade. "Celebrity" drew cheers when the video flashed a Tom Brady look-alike with a deflated football, a caricature of Brad in a flesh-toned bodysuit akin to Miley Cyrus' nude wrecking ball ride and a person holding a sign reading "Westboro Batsh#t." His duet, "Remind Me," with a simulated FaceTime with Carrie Underwood on the screen, cleverly worked in her vocals and some chatter between the two.
Why are we talking about video? As I said last year, no one does concert videos better than Paisley's crew. During an instrumental-only song, he pulled up an 11-year-old boy to play Mario Kart on the screen to keep fans' interest and for "Perfect Storm," a love song, the screen showed only rolling ocean waves and lightning.
Paisley is an ace guitar player, and showed his lifelong love – and skill –on several songs. He also showed it with his ax selection. I lost count at seven different guitars stagehands ran out to swap with him.
Justin Moore was on just before Paisley, reigniting a debate I have with myself: Which of the Moores – Kip or Justin – will be headlining sooner? I've been leaning toward Kip this year, but Justin (no relation) scored big Saturday with a range of songs, including one that could be great at a wedding ("Til My Last Day") and one with a candidate for the countriest line ever: "He can’t even bait a hook." Now I put the Moores neck-and-neck, and in this competition that I completely made up myself, it sure will be fun to follow.
Guyton, with one retro-county single, "Better Than You Left Me," generally sings bouncy songs and has a bouncy stage presence. She also is on the very short list of African-American women country singers. In fact, she actually may be the entire list.
My expectations were somewhat tainted by the last recorded pre-concert tune: Tony Basil's 1981 "Hey Mickey." (You see, Guyton's first name is Mickey and … nevermind.) I guess she'll do OK, and those around me liked her better than I did, but for heaven’s sake, I hope she learns to keep her hair out of her face. I found all that swiping at it bothersome.
That said, she redeemed herself in the "Whiskey Lullaby" duet during Paisley's set (singing the portion Alison Krauss recorded with him). The somber song is a necessary element for fans to get a complete picture of who Paisley is, and obviously she understands how special a performer she shared the stage with.