I spent some 'time well wasted' with Brad Paisley Wednesday night, the first of a two night gig at Casino Rama near Orillia, Ontario. It was a wonderful evening with several 'little moments' worth discussing. And I now solemnly swear that will by my last witty pun in this review!
First things first, I need to thank Casino Rama's Media staff for treating me so well. They were very kind and courteous, making sure I knew where I could stand to shoot pictures, and even personally escorting me to a spot right in front of the stage. I was warned ahead of time that once the show began I could be quickly surrounded with fans, which I was, but it really wasn't a problem at all.
Now, let's talk about Brad. I didn't realize what a fantastic guitar player he is, and I was very impressed by his talent on the guitar. I think we tend to take for granted that the majority of country stars play the guitar, and sometimes it just becomes a part of performance. But when you see a really talented guitarist like Brad, it grabs your attention quickly.
I was up at the stage shooting pictures through the first three songs and the energy was incredible. When Brad stepped up to the mic and started singing "Celebrity" there was an immediate rush of fans moving to the stage. The security allowed them to stay there for the entire night.
There were three mic stands set up on the stage and Brad would move from one to the other, working the middle as well as both sides of the stage. There was a crew man who would continuously add more guitar picks to the three mic stands, because Brad would just grab them all and start tossing them like confetti to the fans. I've never seen so many guitar picks thrown at a concert. I would say he threw more picks during the first song than most artists will throw all night.
The show opened with 4 of Brad's biggest up-tempo hits including my personal favorite "Me Neither," and the No. 1 hit "Mud On the Tires," until he finally slowed things down with the ballad "Little Moments." There was a cute moment next when Brad pretended to go live to the Grand Old Opry, and had a chat with Little Jimmy Dickens who requested that Brad sing the 'wah wah wah' song. I had never heard this song before, but I really enjoyed it. It is from Brad's latest album Time Well Wasted, and is actually called "I'll Take You Back." It's typical Brad Paisley with a catchy tune and lots of wit.
One of the funniest moments of the night came when Brad informed us that this was their first show in 4 months. He said to forgive them if they're a bit rusty and lo and behold, the very next song, Brad forgot the words. He was looking back at the band for a little help! But that was the only hitch in the show, other than that they were right on all night.
I had heard before I went to the show that Brad is very funny. Judging from the songs that he writes you can tell that he's got a great sense of humour, and yes, I would agree, he is a very funny guy. When he introduced his band he told where each member was from and they all just happened to be from various places in Canada, Ottawa... Vancouver... and even Moosejaw. What a coincidence!
Another funny moment came about half way through the show when Brad decided he was going to sing the Canadian national anthem. He started it, but admitted he didn't know the words. The audience started singing it for him, but the people up close to the stage were ahead of the people in the back so it was like an echo almost. Brad held out the microphone and let the crowd sing the entire song. Unfortunately, I think it would have sounded better with Brad humming it or making up his own words... but it was a valient effort by the crowd!
Brad showed off the tenderness and emotion in his voice when he took a seat on a stool and sang "When I Get Where I'm Going," another chart topper. It sounded a little different without Dolly Parton singing background vocals, but it was still a touching moment. On the big screens in the background there were photos of various stars who have passed away such as Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Buck Owens.
Alison Krauss made an appearance on the big screen as well, to sing "Whiskey Lullaby" with Brad. When he sat down and started to play this song I thought to myself that it just wasn't going to be right without Alison singing along. So I was pleasantly surprised when she appeared on screen to sing her parts. It was a very creative idea to use a video clip so Brad could sing the duet without changing the song by singing it alone. It worked really well and the song was as gorgeous and haunting as always.
Now for my favorite part of the night... that would have to be when Brad sang his new single "Ticks." What an absolutely odd song, and so typical Brad Paisley. I don't think there are too many artists who can sing about wanting to check a woman for ticks and make a hit out of it, but I can almost guarantee you that this will be a hit for Mr. Paisley.
I think the only disappointing thing about the night was the crowd. When I was down at the stage taking photos is was fantastic, there was a lot of energy there. But when I had to go back to my seat it was very different. Pretty much the entire floor and the risers were sitting down the entire night. I just didn't feel that typical vibe you feel at a concert. I'm sure it was not Brad's fault at all, he was doing the best he could to get everyone into it. He even sang a two song encore (including a cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues") which doesn't always happen at Casino Rama shows from my experience.
Even with the lack of enthusiasm in the audience I still had a great time and would most definitely go see Brad again in the future. I checked his tour schedule and he is playing the New York State Fair in Syracuse and Copps Coliseum in Hamilton in early September, so I'm quite sure I'll be at one or the other!
- Wrapped Around
- Me Neither
- Mud On the Tires
- Little Moments
- I'll Take You Back
- She's Everything
- Easy Money
- When I Get Where I'm Going
- Whiskey Lullaby
- The World
- I'm Gonna Miss Her
- Folsom Prison Blues