From the Sioux City Journal, Jan. 15, 2010
It's no wonder Brad Paisley wins just about every video award in country music. He understands the medium better than anyone and puts it to excellent use in his concerts.
At Thursday's event at the Tyson Events Center, he had a powerful, dynamic show that never seemed to stop. If he wasn't using bits and pieces from his videos to augment the live music, he was involving the audience with two roving cameramen. The effect was stunning - one that easily made his appearance one of the best in the Tyson's short history.
Paisley, though, isn't just a telegenic performer. He's a superb writer and musician who knows just how to deliver a song. He started, in fact, on the stage, alone, behind a Grand Ole Opry mike. His song: "Start a Band." It said plenty about the journey he has been on; it also proved to be the perfect lead-in to "American Saturday Night," a rousing tribute to the small-town life Paisley extols.
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Working three ramps (a great plus in an arena), Paisley made sure every sector of the audience had a chance to get up close and personal. He didn't scrimp on the songs, either, performing just about every hit you can attach to him. Those videos, however, enabled him to bring in some of his duet partners. "Celebrity" let Taylor Swift, Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson and Dierks Bentley join the "band"; "Waitin' on a Woman" almost looked like a tribute to Andy Griffith.
Whoever directed the video did a marvelous job - giving Paisley just enough space to interact effectively with the visuals. One by one, Paisley checked off the hits. He had plenty of energy and enough goofy charm to make you wonder why in the world he didn't get Entertainer of the Year in 2009. Clearly, this is a stage show that even Kenny Chesney would have to be impressed by.
Dressed in a red-and-black plaid shirt, ripped jeans and the requisite white hat, Paisley swapped guitars like Taylor and the rest change clothes. It was an interesting style point, particularly since most of those guitars boasted paisley patterns. (Neat, huh?)
His best song? "I'm Still a Guy." It had those clever lyrics and sly delivery. His "American Saturday Night" theme carried through to openers Justin Moore and Miranda Lambert, too.
Moore was like one of those Abercrombie cowboys just lookin' to pick a fight.
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Moore is in the development stage of his career, so most of his songs were image makers. "Small Town U.S.A." got him on the map. Now, "I Could Kick Your Ass" could bump him up several rungs. At the end of "Backwoods," he even signed a guitar and gave it to one of the audience members. Neat trick.
Lambert, meanwhile, had more edge than you might think. She had plenty of those "Gunpowder and Lead" moments but her best stuff, ironically, was performed on a stool with little accompaniment. "White Liar" got the crowd going; "The House That Built Me" said plenty about the kind of artist she is.
While the feisty, "rough" girl may be her calling card, it's those quiet songs that are going to seal her place in country music. Listen for "The House." It's magnificent.
Thursday's concert was pretty special, too. Paisley and company proved you don't have to wait for the weekend to have a great time. Thursdays, in fact, just might become the new Saturdays.