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Swindell hits it

Stage AE , Pittsburgh, Pa., November 10, 2016

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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If you're looking for Cole Swindell tickets for his Down Home III tour, they are at best scarce. Walk ups to the box office were met with dual oversized, all caps, bold font "Sold Out" signs, a common occurrence on this tour. Nevertheless, the lucky 2,500 packed into the standing room only venue got their chance to see one of bro country's rising stars scorch through 15 songs in 90 minutes.

The Georgia native, which he made abundantly clear several times, performed a greatest hits set, from which there are many to choose. All six singles from his two albums have charted in the Top 5 of Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, including three number 1's. He showcased each of them, opening with the infectious "Hope You Get Lonely Tonight" and featured an extended version of the sing-along "Ain't Worth The Whiskey."

Also on the docket were a few new songs from the tour's namesake. This third release in the "Down Home Sessions" trilogy was the biggest debut ever for an EP. After mentioning that fact, he quipped, "It took me a long time to get up the courage to wear a hat with my initials on it, but thanks to you guys, I'm now comfortable with it now.

The lighting effects were simple strobes and rotating spots, yet they were sometimes overbearing, lending more of a nightclub vibe to an upbeat, and rocking set.

The rocking was provided by the two lead guitarists who engaged in a Les Paul/Carvin duel/collaboration throughout the show. Swindell has numerous writing credits and shared "Flatliner" which Dierks Bentley had success with. He took time out for an effective acoustic cover of Tim McGraw's "Broke Down" and later on got funky with Brooks and Dunn's "Red Dirt Road."

Swindell is no stranger to large venues, having toured with Kenny Chesney and fellow Sigma Chi frat brother Luke Bryan. But the amped up with a vapid "Brought To You By Beer " with its volume turned up to 11 and obvious lyrics made it feel like it was written in a cubicle and presented to a focus group of arena rock fans for road test approval. It felt out of place in a small venue. Still, the revved up crowd responded well, with full cups, some overflowing, swaying in the air. He closed with a 10-minute 1-2 punch of "You Should Be Here" and "Let Me See Ya Girl."

Adam Sanders made the most of a very short 25 minutes with five numbers that meshed together like a narrative thread. He bears more than a passing resemblance to Chris Stapleton in looks and to Colt Ford in his affable, understated performance style. He knocked out some bro country with "Drink Beer To" and "Real Men Love Jesus."