Hey, Brad Paisley: Times Square called. They want their neon and LED pixels back.
Yes, as fans in the sold-out Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, could attest Jan. 31, the stage set and effects for country superstar Paisley’s “Crushin’ It” world tour are eye-searingly great.
The award-winning singer and songwriter will perform Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Paisley, 43, was won three Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards and 14 awards each from the Academy of County Music and County Music Association. When he was inducted to the Grand Old Opry at age 28, he was the youngest inductee. His 11 albums have sold more than 12 million copies.
Most of the tunes in the hour-and-40-minute show were vividly illustrated by videos ranging from clever and conceptual animation to “we’re having fun water skiing and/or luxuriating with lovely people at the beach” travelogues. There were snapshot homages to Paisley’s inspirational heroes — folks such as Andy Griffith and multiple country legends of yore.
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Oh, and don’t forget Paisley’s no-apologies affection for cold beer. Planted stage left was a fully functional bar — and during the course of the evening, four shifts of fans/contest winners were escorted on- and offstage to spend a few minutes slurping adult beverages in the middle of the action.
Of course, this is a world where live musical performances by arena and stadium headliners — in any musical genre — almost by necessity require this sort of presentation. We as a culture require all nine senses — yes, scientists confirm we’ve evolved four new senses to handle the stimulation overdose — to be fully engaged continually. As such, the idea of musicians simply walking onto an unadorned stage and, ah, playing and singing is quaint at best.
You’d be seriously wrong if you think Paisley doesn’t use all of this technology and sensor bombast in service to the music — which is always his priority.
He has an amazing band, he’s among the absolute finest songwriters working the “new country” template, and his guitar work — a steaming fusion of Jerry Reed, Danny Gatton and, naturally, Chet Atkins — is all-world.
Plus, there’s the humanity aspect. Paisley’s onstage persona is so kind and genuine — giving an acoustic guitar to a lucky kid, taking selfies for and with fans, delivering warm and funny between-tunes anecdotes — that you just know he’s a nice and witty dude out of the spotlights.
With all of these things securely in place, Paisley and company rocked the hits with passion and affection. If you have a favorite Paisley tune, they probably played it, and that Paisley separately brought out estimable support artists Eric Paslay (“Celebrity”) and Cam (the heartmelting “Whiskey Lullaby”) were two more nice touches in a perfect recipe for An Evening Well Spent.
Brad Paisley Crushin’ It world tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma.
Also appearing: Eric Paslay and Cam.
Tickets: $29.75-$65 at Ticketmaster.