View Full Version : Writer takes a "Garth" view to a KC show...

07-04-2005, 11:04 PM
Saturday, July 2, 2005


PEORIA - Thursday night's Kenny Chesney show at the Peoria Civic Center was like a Sawyer Brown and Garth Brooks concert rolled into one.
The country singer's entrance was Garth-like: Chesney was lowered onto the stage in Carver Arena from a platform high above. It was cool, even if the build-up was too long (almost 10 minutes.) However, it served its purpose - the elaborate opening raised the sell-out crowd to its feet, revved up and ready to party.

Chesney's set was Garth-like too. It took 14 semi-trailer trucks (that I counted) to haul it all in. There were several levels of staging: three towers of flashing lights, two huge spotlights hung from the rafters and, suspended in mid-air, runways in all directions and lots of video screens.

Once on stage, Chesney looked as though he had taken lessons from Sawyer Brown's Mark Miller, or maybe even the Energizer Bunny. For 90 minutes, Chesney kept going and going and going, belting out hit after hit after hit. He danced around the stage at break-neck speed, twirling the microphone and driving the girls wild with a series of hip gyrations.

Fans hooted, hollered, raised glass after glass of beer and were energetic and wild the entire evening. The loudest cheer came during "Back Where I Come From," which was backed by video clips from the Peoria area. And just when you didn't think it could get much louder, a shot of the Interstate 74 construction work flashed on the screen and the noise level went up several decibels.

However, the sold-out house was ready to party long before Chesney took center stage.

Country newcomer Pat Green warmed them up with songs like "Baby Doll," which recently entered the top 20 on the country music charts. And Gretchen Wilson, a star of Chesney's magnitude in her own right, just rocked the house.

At 8:10 p.m., the house went dark and colored lights began to flash on stage. A loud rumbling sound let the crowd know something wild was about to happen.

When the video screens began to flash the question, "Are you here for a party?" a nod to Wilson's chart-topper "Here for the Party," it was obvious fans were.

The lights came on, and Wilson made her appearance on the raised drummer platform. She opened with a rockin' number from her soon-to-be-released album, "All Jacked Up."

It wasn't until Wilson's fourth song when she slowed the pace and belted out the ditty "When I Think About Cheatin'" that I realized how remarkable her voice is. True, she's becoming a superstar with party songs like "Redneck Woman" and "Here for the Party," but she could just as easily fit in with legendary country vocalists like Loretta Lynn or Tammy Wynette.

Her voice is pure, Southern and completely natural. She doesn't have that forced, nasally sound like some newcomers, and her vocal range is amazing.

Wilson is one newcomer who this critic believes has staying power. She can belt out the kind of mainstream stuff that keeps the younger set happy, but if country ever returns to where it came from, she is one of the few who has what it takes to make it.

Wilson, who was reared in the small Illinois town Pocahontas, was on stage for less than an hour, but she could have easily headlined the show and performed for 90 minutes.

She did make one more appearance. She joined Chesney onstage, and the duo belted out John Cougar Mellencamp's "Hurts So Good."

At 11 p.m., Chesney left the stage and when he came back for his encore it was obvious that the song that launched his career, "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," is still a favorite. It left the crowd wanting more.


07-04-2005, 11:13 PM
I am a little bias, I don't think KC is all what he is cracked up to be but hey, he is doing something right. It's amazing to me what people think is "country" music is these days and will go see.

Guess I am glad that KC learned from GB and GB learned from Chris LeD and other rock influences. Enjoy it while it lasts KC.

And Gretchen? Yeah, I thought she was a one hit wonder. I am still thinking the 2 year / 2 CD will catch up to her. Nice enough person, she really is...and she surprised me with the vocal range she shows on the first cd...but can she last over the long haul? I doubt it. Unfortunately, image is just about everything these days...

07-05-2005, 01:04 PM
So what do you consider "country"?

07-05-2005, 04:51 PM
So what do you consider "country"?

I just think alot --I mean alot -- of the sound you hear on todays country music stations are programmed with too much "pop country". I hear the same top 30 or so songs played over and over. I personally like a more traditional sound.

A little steel guitar or dobro (sp?) mixed in with some fiddle. I guess I am more traditional in the way I hear things and of course, I respect other peoples other views. I guess thats why we live in this great country - cause I can state my point and others can also without any fuss.

Of course, I like to listen when people call in and do the requesting on the radio because its not always that top 30 or so thats playing at that time.

Of course, I really think the country music industry is so much just a "hear ya go - here is a top 10 song from so and so" - and then you never hardly hear from them again after the debut single is released. Tommy Shane Steiner, Kevin Denny, Clay Davidson, Mark Wills (ok a bit better than the initial startup), Mindy McCreedy, Sherrie Austin, Tammy Cochran, etc. etc. etc. Its just a "bang them out, one hit or so and your gone" type - it drives me nuts. Labels invest only so much into the artist, if you don't look or sound promising, they move onto someone else thats younger, prettier and that wants less demanding of things after the startup. "return on investment".

Everything goes around in circles. Someone of these newer artists will have to find some label lasting power somehow. Traditional should come back around at some point.

Ok - I should get down off my soapbox now. Have a good day.

07-07-2005, 09:05 AM
I like where country is for the most part - I would like to hear a little more on the traditional side than I do, however. I have heard opinions that Nashville is becoming a songwriter factory and that people are just spitting out songs left and right and are losing alot of the 'umph'. I'm not sure if I agree with that, but all in all (and in response to your message above) I think there are a lot of artists that do have more staying power than others and will always be the case, even though those with perhaps less 'presence' may be extremely talented musicians. And also in response to your message above about labels banging out artists and dropping them if they show little sign of promise. Though I hate to think that an artist would be cut off after one metiocre album, they do have a business to run. I do wish things were not so commercial and cut throat on the business end, but I can't imagine things will change so I believe it will be up to the artist to survive.

I always like to hear other people's passion for the music and business. Glad to hear you have concerns and comments on these issues. Who knows, maybe traditional country will come full swing and be all you hear in 10 years. Then we'll be talking about how we wish country were commercial!

07-09-2005, 12:15 AM
Ohhhhhhhhh Bob! This is from my hometown newspaper!

The first concert I remember going to at the Peoria Civic Center was Van Halen. With David Lee Roth. I saw Air Supply there... Chicago... Reba when Brooks & Dunn was opening for her... Alan Jackson...

Good memories. :)


07-12-2005, 04:56 PM
Holy cow. Van Halen with Roth was my second concert I ever went to! Saw the original group 4 or 5 times then once with Sammy.

Barry Manilow was the first. Can't remember my very first concert that was country. Must have been nobody big name! World Tour? (BIG BIG name?) Was of course, Garth.
That concert opened up a whole new "way of thinking" for me when it came to Buffalo.

It was the first night I ever saw Trisha Yearwood perform also. It was the night he won Entertainer of the Year and TY and GB sang "Where your Road Leads" broadcasted back to the CMA's.

Thus, I like it so much...I bought the same Mo Betta shirt that GB was wearing that night.