Sign up for newsletter
 

Aldean blazes away

Key Bank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA, August 24, 2018

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

If there were ever a country music artist who would be justified using hair metal pyrotechnics in a live show, it would be Jason Aldean. But in lieu of the flames, Aldean ignites with sonic booms and sizzling sound. The Georgia native came out with guns blazing with a one-two punch of "Gettin' Warmed Up" and "Take A Little Ride." These first 10 minutes were an accurate indicator of what was to come over the next two hours.

The band rocks hard for the full 120 minutes settling down only for a tight block of ballads midway, starting with "The Truth" and "Amarillo Sky." Aldean's voice on ballads is soft, but authoritative, his upper register reminiscent of Vince Gill. He baited the sold-out crowd before the new album's best slow tempo number, "Drowns the Whiskey" by hinting that song mate Miranda Lambert was backstage (she was a week earlier as a headliner), but he did just fine as he pushed the vocals about the power of memory along on the wheels of a mesmerizing pedal steel.

His cover of Colt Ford's "Dirt Road Anthem" is always a crowd favorite and the only part of the show where newbies have quizzical looks on their faces as the three-minute rap rolls along. The band flexed its muscle during the home stretch on juiced up versions of "Johnny Cash," "My Kinda Party" and, of course, "Burnin' It Down."

Season 10 American Idol runner up Lauren Alaina was granted a generous 40 minutes, opening with a full-throttle eight-song set to showcase most of her sophomore album "Road Less Travelled" It is a deeply honest, introspective effort that alternates between heavy handedness and contemporary numbers. She always always picks someone in each city to be my "Next Boyfriend" she said before inviting a begrudging participant to join her onstage for the song of the same title.

Crowd pleaser Luke Combs enjoyed a raucous welcome worthy of a headliner, and it soon became clear that fans were very familiar with the three number 1 songs from his 2017 debut, "This One's For You." Combs is full of witty repartee and said," "People said I was too old and too fat to be doing this. So, I say to them. "Here's another number one single" before launching into the fitting "When It Rains It Pours" on a very soggy night.