August 9, 2016 Brad Paisley Heats Up Nikon at Jones Beach, NY 8-4-16 w/ Maddie & Tae and Tyler Farr
At a Brad Paisley concert, concert goers get a little bit of everything. He is a balladeer, a guitar hero, a tireless performer who has kept up an impressive touring schedule for well over a decade, and a very funny guy. It is no wonder that when he announced his Life Amplified World Tour and added into the mix openers Tyler Farr plus Maddie & Tae, tickets moved fast. Including a bunch of festivals on the way across the country, Paisley and company are hitting Colorado’s Country Jam, Ohio’s Buckle Up Music Festival, Florida’s Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, and Nevada’s Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, resulting in a very busy summer and fall for the Glen Dale, WV native and his pals.
Just shy of the midway point of a tour that started in Sacramento, CA on May 19th and took Paisley across the border to the north into Canada, the roadshow made it to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on the seasonably warm and lovely evening of Thursday, August 4th.
Up first were the youngest of the lineup, Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye, an act which are the fresh faces of modern Country. They could be described as a crossover Country, or Country with a twist. Hailing from Sugar Land, TX and Ada, OK, they sat down one St. Patrick’s Day and wrote “Girl In a Country Song” with Co-Writer Aaron Schwarz, which has become an anthem, gaining the attention of NPR’s All Things Considered and Rolling Stone magazine. “Girl” takes to task the BroCountry stereotypes that are placed upon women in some songs and the duo’s hilarious video displays the fact that they are in on the joke and are poking fun. While working in the studio tracking overdubs for “Girl,” they inked a deal with Dot Records. They released Start Here in 2015, and as they say, the rest is history.
Kicking things off with their quirky hit “Shut Up and Fish,” Maddie & Tae had the crowd’s attention right from the first notes. Other highlights of their abbreviated set was “Sierra;” about a mean girl from their school, which Maddie introduced by saying, “The coolest part of country music is the storytelling…This song is about a girl who always put people down.” Of course, the set closer was “Girl In A Country Song.”
After a short intermission, Garden City, MO’s own Tyler Farr hit the stage. Farr’s resume is impressive. He is the son of a farmer and a classically trained Opera singer who participated as a tenor in Missouri’s All-State Choir in his senior year of high school. Urban legend has it that he stumbled upon and became enamored with Country music when his mother married George Jones’ touring guitarist. An accomplished songwriter, Farr co-wrote “Hey Y’all” for Cole Swindell and “She’s Just Like That” for Joe Nichols. While he was paying his dues and had to pay the rent, Farr took on a number of jobs including parking cars, short order cooking, landscaping, singing demos, recreational therapist, construction work, and working in a halfway house for kids. His debut album, Redneck Crazy, came out in September of 2013 and contained his first Top 10 hit in “Redneck Crazy,” and three other singles, his unusual voice catching the attention of fans and critics alike.
His prolific touring schedule has included opening for Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, and Jason Aldean, as well as performing at festivals, dive bars, and everything in between. He has come a long way, with a number one Country hit in “A Guy Walks Into a Bar.” He can croon about heartbreak. He can rouse the crowd with his words. He can also be quite funny. That said, he made numerous quips during his performance at Jones Beach. One of the funniest was delivered shortly after the beginning of his performance. He stated, “We’re gonna throw a damn party here tonight! If you don’t want to party, drink a Pinot Grigio and pass out. Let your friend party for you!” He also described a song as being “about an ex-girlfriend. She’s an idiot.”
Farr is a renaissance man of Country music and he kept the enthusiasm of the crowd up with his polished versions of “A Guy Walks Into a Bar,” “Better in Boots,” and “(A Shot of) Whiskey In My Water.” After having a vocal polyp removed after a severe bout of bronchitis at the end of 2015, which was followed by total vocal rest, it was nice to hear Farr sounding strong.
Another brief break brought the man of the evening to the stage. Accomplishing a huge amount of accolades in his 43 years, Paisley exudes a humble vibe. From his 12 million albums sold and 11 studio albums, one can only wonder where Paisley keeps his multitude of awards, including 14 CMA awards, 3 Grammys, British Country Music Association Awards, including International Act of the Year in 2011, and 14 ACM awards. Most impressive is his membership in the Grand Ole Opry.
As an only child, Paisley started out singing at 10-years-old in church and has not stopped. In 2011, he co-wrote a book with Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild called Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me. No stranger to the small screen, Paisley has appeared in numerous projects including as himself in the first three seasons of Nashville, an expert on ABC’s hit singing competition Rising Star, and even guest starred in an episode of South Park, entitled “Cartman Finds Love.”
On the screen behind the stage, a huge “Life Amplified” video was projected, with the words being smashed to bits and the scene switching to outer space, finally announcing the present day and the location. The musicians filed onto the stage amid smoke and laser lights. Paisley entered with his signature cowboy hat and cheers were heard. Die-hard fans filled the area in front of the stage and a raucous cheer went up for the song that kicked off Paisley’s hour and 45 minute set, “Crushing It.” As Paisley engaged with the adoring crowd, he even gave his guitar to a young fan in the audience, they paid it back in return with lots of energy.
Highlights included “Perfect Storm,” “Without a Fight;” done as a duet with Demi Lovato through the magic of technology – with Lovato appearing on the giant televised screen, and “This is Country Music / Mama Tried.” Inflated beach balls bounced over the heads of ticket holders in the orchestra and floated past the stage. The funny “I’m Gonna Miss Her” was a hit with the crowded amphitheater. Farr returned to the stage, to thunderous applause, to perform with Paisley on “I’m Still A Guy,” “She’s Everything,” and “American Saturday Night.”
Paisley showed the love to fans on both sides of the stage, effortlessly running between the two ends to play for them. During “Celebrity,” a video is shown of Brad Paisley as a South Park character singing the song with lots of other celebrities equally animated resulting in a hilarious presentation. Eighteen songs later, the set ended with “Ticks” and the sing-along “Alcohol” as encores.
With so many variations on the Country category that exist, seeing a solid lineup like the Life Amplified Tour with new to the charts musicians like Maddie & Tae, every man’s favorite artists like Tyler Farr, or the well-heeled, established, and ever-popular performers like Brad Paisley, it is amazing to see the evolution of a genre of music and have excitement for where the future will take it.Photo credit: Christine Connallon Photography