Darius Rucker sizzled in the heat on his Good For A Good Time Tour with talented opening acts Michael Ray and Dan + Shay.
17-June-2016: It’s tough to go to an outdoor concert when it’s a toasty 97 degrees, but a nearly sold out crowd at the Gexa Energy Pavilion wasn’t deterred at all. Adopting the philosophy of “those who sweat together, enjoy a concert together,” they enjoyed a night of good country music.
Gexa created a pit area in front of the stage for the fans who wanted to twist and turn all night. It filled up quickly, and they started yelling as soon as muscle shirt-wearing, tattooed Michael Ray came onstage. The new country singer had a solid voice and showed good stage presence during his eight-song set.
Dan + Shay was up next, and the fans got excited. The duo has made a fast entrance on the charts with one album reaching No. 1 and their other album reaching No. 2. They sang their three Top 10 singles, “19 You And Me,” “Nothin’ Like You” and “From The Ground Up.” The band also served up rock and pop covers by Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and CeeLo Green.
The late arriving crowd came to see Darius Rucker, though. The sun went down, and it cooled to a crisp 91 degrees as the tarp concealing the stage dropped. The band was already on stage, and the fans screamed in anticipation of what was to come.
The three-time Grammy winner’s smooth voice instantly soothed the crowd for the first two songs. “Southern Style” hit an emotional chord as he sang about Southern hospitality. He then spoke of genres having no boundaries anymore, and he showed his emotions in the deeply personal, “I Got Nothin’.”
He sang the first of four Hootie and the Blowfish songs, the last being their biggest hit “Only Want To Be With You.” After re-defining his career, he still sings a few Hootie songs, but his focus is on his country music career.
His biggest solo song, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” was a fan favorite as well as a singalong. His song dedicated to parenting, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long,” combined a beautiful band harmony with penetrating lyrics about children growing up too fast.
Declaring that he hates labels, but loves good songs, he covered “Friends In Low Places,” “No Diggity” and “Thank God I’m A Country Boy.” They were unexpected choices, but the crowd loved them, sang along and danced to them.
Darius performed several songs off his last album, 2015’s Southern Style, including the title track. “Lighter Up” and “Homegrown Honey” were also from the album, as well as the tour’s namesake, “Good For A Good Time.” The No. 1 country album also included “So I Sang,” a song he wrote about what he wanted to do with his life.
The crowd erupted when he began his encore with the extremely popular “Wagon Wheel.” The singers in the audience were deafening, and the dancers were mesmerizing as the band extended it into a jam session.
For their final song, Rucker and team played “Purple Rain” as a tribute to Prince . It was a great concert-ending song and sent the fans home in a great mood.
Country music fans are dedicated fans, and Darius Rucker has a legion of them. They know every word of his songs and sang along at the top of their lungs. The Hootie fans were also happy hearing the 90s pop hits one again.
Rucker’s smooth voice made good songs sound eve better. The backup band was a cohesive unit, and they raised the level of entertainment when given the chance. The 23 songs over two hours gave the fans their money’s worth and then some. They went home sweaty, but happy.
The Good For A Good Time Tour continues through September. See it when it comes near you.
Photographer Joe Guzman of National Country Review was on hand to capture the event.