Brad Paisley hasn’t played much live lately, but he clearly hasn’t lost his touch.
“It’s been a while,” Paisley told the crowd Thursday night at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville. “You are still so beautiful. You gained 15 pounds, but you are still so beautiful.”
The show was sort of the opening of the tour. Paisley performed a big festival in the Florida Panhandle last month and a free July 4 show in Nashville, but the Jacksonville show was the first in a 28-date series that runs through October.
After:Ticket Tracking: Flogging Molly, The Expendables
For a guy who’s spent more time in the past year doing TV commercials and attending Zoom calls than playing live music, Paisley certainly showed no signs of rusting on Thursday. He played 25 songs, going through most of his big hits and one or two new songs.
One of them, âCity of Music,â opened the show, and it was a pretty amazing moment. A huge video screen behind the stage showed a photo of an empty Daily’s Place, with the date July 8, 2020, superimposed on the image. It then moved on to July 8, 2021 and a live photo of the loud crowd. Paisley didn’t have to say a word about pandemics, masks or vaccines; everything was there in these two images.
Paisley is a magnetic, warm and funny and a bit awkward showman. After raising a fan, he hired a machinist to bring him some hand sanitizer. He slipped another fan’s phone and ordered a 12-pack of Bud Light from Target on his account. During a song on the Thursday show, Paisley spotted a child holding a birthday sign, removed his guitar, and put it back. “Learn to play it, little man,” he said. “I’ll see you here in 10 years.”
He is also an ace of the guitar. His solos are lightning fast and edgy, but they definitely have a country side to them. Unless, of course, he’s playing “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen.
Aside from a bit of “Purple Rain” and a touch of “Mountain Music”, the show was all about Paisley songs. He’s one of the smartest songwriters in the business. Look for the lyrics to “Ticks”, “So Much Cooler Online”, “I’m Gonna Miss Her”, “I’m Still a Guy”, “Celebrity” or “There’s No Me In Beer. ”
Videos have been shown on the big screen behind the stage for many of his songs, featuring everything from a waterskiing squirrel to Andy Griffith, to clips from an upcoming Paisley special “Shark Week” to a surprisingly realistic Carrie Underwood.
Kameron Marlowe and Jimmie Allen opened the show. Marlowe did 30 minutes and looked really happy to be there. His slow blues take on “Folsom Prison Blues”, with four guitarists at the same time, was quite impressive.
Allen, arguably the most brilliant man in country music, is a guy to watch. Dressed in a t-shirt featuring a dazzled eagle, sparkly jeans, gold boots and a giant gold Charley Pride belt buckle, he was pretty hard to miss. Once he started playing, however, it became clear that he is the country at heart. “Big in a Small Town”, which he introduced as the theme of a new Netflix show, has the makings of a great summer success.