Written by Dave Clements
Billed as Brad Paisley’s Country Nation World Tour, Brad did indeed bring enough opening acts along with him to populate a small nation!  The early crowd was beginning to filter into The Woodlands Pavilion to see Brad Paisley and his latest star spangled show.  I don’t remember ever seeing so many families with young children in attendance.  It was Saturday and not a school night, so that might explain part of it.  Still I found myself wondering, is Brad Paisley a family friendly act?  We were about to find out!

ImageFirst up was Charlie Worsham.  Charlie was out in the audience before his set greeting the early crowd and thanking them for coming out early to listen to him!  He only did a few songs but his new friends in the crowd were very receptive.  Plus, my wife tells me he’s a great looking guy.  We heard several women in the audience sighing over his piercing blue eyes.  For his second song, he picked up a banjo and did a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’.  Oddly enough, it worked!  As an intro to the last song of his set, Charlie asked ‘How many of you are seeing me for the first time?’  After seeing many raised hands, he declared “I’m going to be back here in a few years and headline this place.  I hope you’ll come see me!”  I’d say he’s off to a good start.

Next up in this very diverse lineup of openers was Ms. Leah Turner.  She strutted out on stage to some decidedly hard rock background music.  It was immediately obvious that she was going for a sexy and tough image.  She wore short shorts, a camisole that left little to the imagination, and a fringed vest.  Leah seemed to enjoy interacting with her audience and at one point declared her music was ‘for everyone who’s got Tabasco in their veins’!  She reminded me a little of Gretchen Wilson, but when she opened her mouth to sing a ballad I heard shades of Wynonna.

ImageAfter Turner’s set was over we were treated (?) to Dee Jay Silver.  Dee Jay is, well… a DJ.  I know DJ’s are popular on the LA and NYC party scene.  Apparently there is a real art to spinning tunes.  He definitely kept the young audience member’s enthusiasm up.  He was not playing anything that sounded even remotely country.  He encouraged the crowd to ‘get your shoes off – sing along!’ and many of them did.  Guess it’s a generation gap thing.  I could have done without this portion of the program.

The last opener with top billing after Paisley, was Randy Houser.  Despite the train whistle intro and the smoke being pumped out on the stage, the strains of music blasting were once again rock and roll.  This crowd jumped to their feet though and greeted him enthusiastically.  My first thought was that he doesn’t look the part.  In fact, he looked down right uncomfortable to me but some of that could have been the sweat and red face as he reacted to this hot Texas night.  Randy has roots in Mississippi so you’d think he’d be acclimated.  Maybe it was the harsh spot lights and smoke?

ImageRandy sang some original tunes.  The crowd sang along to the first song ‘Goodnight Kiss’.  Then he covered Garth Brook’s ‘Friends in Low Places’ and did a stand up job.  His band mate wore a mad hatter’s hat and added to the song with a great steel guitar.  His guitarist and bass player came up and crawled and slinked along the thrust in front of the stage.  They looked to be going for a Rolling Stones’ vibe.  The sound was Southern Rock but the look was not.  I don’t think Randy Houser needed all of the spot lights and special effects.  Randy concluded his set by playing his current radio hit ‘Like a Cowboy’ much to this audience’s delight.

We listened to more Dee Jay Silver while waiting for Mr. Brad Paisley to take the stage.  The stage screen showed video of rocket launchers with the NASA logo on them.  I thought ‘this is going to be BIG’!

And indeed Houston…we had a lift off!

ImageHis opening tune ‘Moonshine in the Trunk’ was accompanied by a dizzying video.  We also saw Superhero graphics and I’d say Brad is working hard to live up to them.  This is a super talented, very professional entertainer.  The show has too many bells and whistles for my taste but I was very impressed by the work it must have required to pull it all off.  Brad gave his all to the approximately 20 song set.  During ‘Beat This Summer’ he signed every fans’ everything!  He came out into the crowd during ‘The Mona Lisa’, and had the ladies swooning to ‘She’s Everything’.  And he gave an autographed guitar to a kid in the audience!  Brad showed off his love for guitar solos with some great riffs and really let loose during his Van Halen cover of ‘Hot for Teacher’.  I’m surprised his guitar didn’t go up in flames!

Doing the encore song ‘Alcohol’ aside, the answer to the question about whether or not this is a family show seems to be yes.  There were no ‘F-bombs’, parents put earplugs and headphone on their children’s ears, and the crowd smiled and laughed through “I’m Gonna Miss Her”.  This was a G-rated performance and an A+ for Brad Paisley. 

Until next time remember there’s no time to kill.