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Chris Young enjoys atypical night

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., January 30, 2013

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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This wasn't your typical Chris Young gig. Most obviously, he was not accompanied by his band - well not most of it anyway. Instead, Young stood at center stage - seated - with acoustic guitar in hand with band mate Kevin Collier holding onto his electric to his left.

Young proved that volume wasn't required for a worthy, engaging set. In fact, the setting enabled Young to take a much more laid back approach than typical. Young benefitted - and enjoyed - the chance to talk about some of the songs and engage the crowd more.

He also took time to just enjoy the chance of making music with Collier. At one point, the two engaged in a guitar duel, which Collier certainly won, according to Young. Before launching into his first ever single, Drinkin' Me Lonely, Young admitted defeat. "You can play guitar better than me," Young said, before taking the offense. "I know you can't sing. I've heard you sing." Young went onto say that when Collier is singing in concert, fans will notice no microphone is nearby.

Such was the looseness of the evening - fun, not necessarily always serious and a chance to act probably a lot different on stage than usual.

Fortunately for Young, he has a wealth of material to rely on at this stage - three albums into his career. He also had to play his hits, like The Man I Want To Be, Voices, which became number one about 18 months after it was first released), Gettin' You Home (The Black Dress Song), You and the closing song of the 65-minute show Tomorrow.

Young amply demonstrated in song after song what a fine voice he has. His is stepped in traditional country and well-suited to the genre. His voice is full-bodied with a lot of timbre.

He also stretched it out a bit going on the bluesy side with a cover of ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man, and soulful on You. Young acknowledged that he had misgivings about releasing the song - the ninth on his "Neon" disc - as a single. "Usually when we release (singles), it's one of the first four or five tracks on the record," he said. And when a label rep asked him about releasing it as a single, "I said, I don't know. It's (kind) of an R&B country thing."

Good thing Young relented because it became his fifth number one. He also did justice to the song live, stretching out beyond his norm.

With Collier tuning away, Young took the time to play a brand new song he wrote with Luke Laird, I'm Sorry. Young described it as "a party song," and he was pretty much on target. "This one will never be on my records, " he pledged. Perhaps more suited to the likes of Luke Bryan, Young added to his repertoire with a fun romp with the key line, "I'm sorry, but yeah, I party." Okay, the song may not win any songwriting awards, but it was fun.

That was pretty much typical of the night - a different way to see Young - and still very enjoyable.

Sarah Darling, who just released a four-song EP on Tuesday, started off the night celebrating radio station WKLB's 20th anniversary, with a good eight-song set. The Iowa native has a strong set of pipes. She didn't oversing to her credit, showing a lot of flexibility in her voice. Fortunately, for her sake, the vocals were mixed very high during her half-hour gig.

Darling's material was good although there were no killer songs, but every song was worthy, including her own stamp on Tom Petty's Free Fallin'.