Blake Shelton takes it slow at Consol Energy Center
March 20, 2016 12:13 AM
Blake Shelton at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.
Blake Shelton, right, with band members at Consol Energy Center.
Chris Janson opens for Blake Shelton at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.
Blake Shelton at Consol Energy Center.
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
He’s a country singer, a TV star, practically a comedian, and Blake Shelton is also a realist.
Whenever he plays Pennsylvania -- he said "Pennsylvania" -- "it's always big dudes in flannel shirts lookin' at me,“ he told the Consol Energy Center crowd Saturday night.
"You came out here," he said to those dudes, "and I know why you did it: Because SHE wanted you to do it."
More than Chesney, Church, Toby or Paisley, Mr. Shelton is a ladies man, who stuffed his set list with more ballads than a Barbra Streisand concert. "Over," "Mine Would Be You," "Lonely Tonight," they came in droves.
The “Voice” judge had songs for other occasions, as well, like a frisky date night ("Gonna"), a trip to Margaritaville ("Some Beach"), a honky tonk ("Hillbilly Bone") and a Donald Trump rally ("Kiss My Country Ass").
We got a taste of deep country roots with Conway Twitty breakup song “Goodbye Time" and George Jones' swampy "Ol' Red," prompting him to advise the flannel dudes that " 'Ol Red' is not the song to make your move on." For that purpose, he offered them Joe Nichols' swoony "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," and plenty of others that would do the trick, including the sultry "Sangria."
His newest single, the sobering "Came Here to Forget," was one for his own romantic drama, which you may have seen in the supermarket tabloids.
Mr. Shelton has chair-turning talent, obviously, without being the kind of singer who blows you away with the range, emotion, beauty or strength of his voice. He's just sturdy, on pitch, and a confident, good-natured, self-deprecating entertainer.
The already slow-moving two-hour show stopped for a solo acoustic segment with tragic lullaby "The Baby," "Nobody But Me" and breakout hit "Austin," so when the band returned and he slowed it down again for Michael Buble's "Home," I was giving longing looks to the exit signs.
He and the band picked up steam for a last little run with country rocker "Boys 'Round Here," a can’t-miss, crowd-pleasing cover of "Footloose" and final power ballad "God Gave Me You."
A little more of opener Chris Janson wouldn’t have hurt. He introduced himself as “135 pounds of skinny white redneck” and went about winning over the crowd with witty songs, guitar and harmonica chops, and a voice that can go as deep as Johnny Cash. He looks more like a young Springsteen than the typical Nashville hunk, but his songs are straight-up bro-country.
Shortly after doing “Power of Positive Drinkin’” (“7,8,9 I’m feeling fine, by Number 10, life’s good again”) the 29-year-old who may or may not be able to pound a 12-pack told us about his devout Christian faith and wife and four kids. It led into a truly heartfelt ballad called “Holding Her.” He took us to the honky tonk with “White Trash” into Hank Jr.’s “Country Boy Can Survive” and got the crowd to sing along and light up their phones on the ACM-nominated hit “Buy Me A Boat” that gets right to the point: “I ain’t rich, but I damn sure wanna be.”
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg
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