Blake Shelton brought his talents home to Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend, performing for two sold-out crowds at Bridgestone Arena. With a little help from Number 1 artist Chris Janson (and a surprise cameo by Bobby Bones), the Blake crowd was “all about tonight” and ready for a party with a red, red, red, red, red, red, red, red, redneck.
The set list spanned Blake’s entire career, ranging from his very first single, “Austin”, to his very last single, “Gonna”, and covering everything in between. Requesting permission from the crowd to rely on his older music to keep Friday’s party going late into the night, Blake was met with encouraging and supportive screams. And the rest was history.
Blake’s show can aptly be described as that of a pure vocalist who needn’t include bells, whistles, and over-the-top lighting displays to distract the crowd from a less than stellar singing voice. Rather, Blake provided a high-tech, yet understated, stage that allowed him to play to the entire audience, all three hundred-sixty degrees of it, while keeping the focus on his beautiful instrument.
From the opening number, “Neon Light“, to the final notes of “God Gave Me You“, Blake kept the crowd on its feet, singing along to hit after hit, while the country music funny man made the sought after ticket to his show worth every cent. As expected, The Voice coach, Number 1 artist, and country comedian spent a lot of time talking to his fans, taking time to point out some of the larger men in the front and comparing them to the mountains one must climb as an artist in Nashville. He also later encouraged the guys to use the opportunity to dance with their ladies during “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” to make up for the fact that he saw some romanticizing happening during the song about cheating and revenge, “Ol Red“.
Throughout the show, Blake raised a cup to the audience, and continued to drink, because it’s what he does when he is nervous, according to the gentle giant. Eliciting many laughs and “air cheers”, Blake talked to the sea of thousands like he was speaking to an intimate group of close friends. Further demonstrating his actual lack of nerves and complete comfort on the stage, Blake mouthed several swear words during the tongue-in-cheek “Some Beach“, acting out the horrific story of a dentist drilling into a not-so-numb gum.
Though Blake did not have any cameos during his set, including Ashley Monroe for “Lonely Tonight“, the superstar’s talents carried the show, making the missing accompaniment feel like less of a void. Additionally, the vocal strength of Blake’s background singer (Kara Britz) filled the gap seamlessly, proving that singing these songs alone did not mean the headliner would be lonely on the stage.
The highlight of the show was when Blake moved to the end of the catwalk, sat on a stool — just him, a guitar, and a drink — and performed the rarely sung “The Baby“, “Nobody But Me“, and his first hit, “Austin” (a video of which can be found below). Upon finishing the three-song acoustic series, Blake headed back to the main stage, where he kept things soft, performing “Drink On It“, “Sangria“, and “Home“, asking the audience to light up the arena with its cell phones. Wow’ed by the results, Blake sang the homesick-induced track in sing-along style, as fans helped him croon and waved their phones in the air.
Concluding the show with a short encore of “Footloose” and “God Gave Me You”, Blake humbly and graciously thanked the audience for giving him a Nashville night he had long dreamed about and would never forget. As a member of the audience, I can say reciprocate the appreciation and thank Blake for giving us all a chance to share in his dream coming true and making it a truly memorable event.
Watch Blake Shelton perform “Austin” acoustically in Nashville, Tennessee: