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Blake Shelton shines

Stanislaus County Fair, Turlock, Cal., August 1, 2007

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

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Blake Shelton declared early in the show that "I like older country music more than I like all this new crap." That statement was evident throughout his 75-minute performance in front of 3,500 fans, whether playing his own material or covering songs from 30 years ago.

Shelton opened with a cover of The Bellamy Brothers' "Redneck Girl." And his next song, "Good Ole Boy, Bad Old Boyfriend" showcased the talents of his fiddler, who performed a handful of impressive solos through the night.

The night wasn't all smooth. About halfway through his cover of "Brown Eyed Girl," the microphone didn't work, so the band played the song but Shelton sat it out.

He bounced back with a rousing rendition of "Playboys of the Southwestern World," a tongue-in-cheek song from his second album. Shelton continued to talk about his dedication to traditional country, telling the audience they wouldn't like "Cotton Pickin' Time" if they didn't like old country. The song began with a lengthy fiddle intro and included some entertaining, playful lyrics.

Shelton said he couldn't get enough of the old stuff and went on to play "East Bound and Down" before doing his signature songs, "Austin" and "Some Beach," which unsurprisingly received the biggest crowd response of the evening.

Another highlight was an acoustic set during which Shelton played the honky-tonker "The More I Drink" and the tear jerking ballad, "The Baby."

The encore was a mixed bag with the successful part being Shelton's cover of Conway Twitty's "Tight Fittin' Jeans" and his own hit, "Ol' Red". But his girlfriend, Miranda Lambert, joined him on stage to sing background vocals on the latter, but the two didn't treat the audience to a duet or another performance.