After Scotty McCreery and The Band Perry opened with their separate sets, Paisley made his triumphant return to Tinseltown. The show opened with an animated hologram of his iconic electric guitar flying through space to meet his digital silhouette leaning into his solo. The same pose was being choreographed by the man himself on stage.
Brad was wearing his typical over-sized white Stetson tapered along the edges to rise up against his head. He was dressed in blue jeans and a T-shirt prominently displaying “Los Angeles” in hipster font. His set ranged over older hits like “Waiting on a Woman” and “Ticks” to crowd favorites like “Remind Me” and “Mud on the Tires” and finally his new single “Southern Comfort Zone,” which is soon to be released on his upcoming album next year.
Brad entertained his audience in between songs with comedic interludes that poked fun at current events. For instance, when he spoke about the “feminization of the modern man” he used the allegory “men full of binders” to reference to Mitt Romney’s now viral phrase from the second presidential debate last week. This worked as a transition into “I’m Still A Guy.”
The ingenious set design and video work throughout the show was synced with his songs in a way that would make any Studio City techie blush. Brad controlled the tempo from front to back so much so, that he had the luxury to break in the middle of a song. For example, he made a short video of himself with an iPhone he had quickly grabbed from an audience member. Right before he picked “She’s Everything” back up he gave the phone back saying “I think you’re battery died. Shoulda bought the ’5,’ they say the battery lasts 20% longer.” A perfect example for his wry good sense of humor intelligently weaved throughout the show.
Apart from making his audience laugh, Brad also showed off his guitar skills. He integrated a solo in just about every song referencing melodies and famous riffs from artists like Eric Clapton and The Who. Case in point: the opening of “Online” that was taken straight out of the iconic “Baba O’ Reily.” One time he even started with two guitars strapped around his body. He opened “This is Country Music” playing an acoustic, which he signed and gave away to a kid in the audience just before he continued the song with the electric strapped on his back.
Brad’s performance was fast paced and inclusive. He simply didn’t allow for a dull moment to happen. Two thirds into his almost two-hour show he made it an effort to take a hike through the seating area of the amphitheater just to get to the section that “he used to sit in” back in the day, when he watched performers like himself in venues like this. At this point he started strumming away the opening chords of “Letter To Me” a ballad sung to his seventeen-year old self and that night, also to the back section of the Hollywood Bowl.
Paisley decided to include the opening acts at different times. Kimberly from “The Band Perry” came out to support his gut wrenching ballad about alcoholism “Whiskey Lullaby,” adding her own signature to the melodramatic tale. Scotty McCreery shared the stage with Brad early on during “Celebrity,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to his already successful career and overnight fame after winning American Idol last year. However, the special appearance that got standing ovations was the hologram of Carrie Underwood that showed her walking on center stage with remarkable resemblance. It’s safe to say that it had some country fan fooled that night. It was fascinating to hear how well Paisley wrestled with her overpowering vocals just to find his own voice in the hit duet “Remind Me“.
Paisley’s conclusion to his “Virtual Reality World” tour glorified country music in the modern world. He acted as an ambassador for a genre that is often romanticized and written off as too conservative for pop culture. Brad’s performance that night was best described as an electric charge of lighting touching every single person in the bowl around him. He took great care not to soar off into outer space always keeping one foot grounded in reality. Addressed to a tailgating crowd that had an amazing time, Brad Paisley’s farewell hallowed through the bowl: “Stay classy Hollywood.” It was a night to remember.
-Welcome To The Future
-This is Country Music
-Waiting On A Woman
-I’m Still A Guy
-Working On A Tan
-Southern Comfort Zone
-Letter To Me
-Mud On The Tires
-I’m Gonna Miss Her
-American Saturday Night
Michael Trobisch/K-FROG 95.1