Jackson's a great singer, but not a big talker, which is why his slight chattiness this evening came as a bit of a surprise. For instance, he introduced "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" as a song that deals with the passing on of a loved one as something other than a 'dyin' and cryin' song.' But of course, it was the singing - and playing of his tight eight-piece Strayhorns band - that did the most of the talking for Jackson, as it usually does.
Yes, there were upbeat, party songs like "Good Time," but the slower, more thoughtful selections left the greatest impression. For those in the audience that have experienced long-term relationships, "Remember When" was especially touching. And his "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" was once again powerful and even had the audience chanting 'USA, USA, USA!' as the performance of it came to an end.
Although Jackson shows can be a little predictable at times, he did find room for a brand new, unreleased song, "You Didn't Know," which he introduced as a rockabilly song from his upcoming full-length.
As always, Jackson was shadowed by a huge video screen playing the artist's various music videos while he and band performed them live. Jackson's never flashy, but always steady. And tonight he provided wonderful proof of why he's been so successful for 25 years now.
Jon Pardi preceded Jackson with a quality set of songs that included youthful indulgent songs, like "Trash a Hotel Room" and more serious love songs, exemplified by "Missin' You Crazy."
Brandy Clark opened the show with a winning set of folk-accented country songs. Highlights included the single "Hold My Hand," which Clark recently sang on the Grammy Award broadcast. Better still was her solo acoustic renderings of two hits for other artists: "Mama's Broken Heart" (for Miranda Lambert) and "Better Dig Two," which The Band Perry made into a hit.
By beginning with Clark, and ending with Jackson, this was a night that presented the best of country's past, present and future. All keepin' it country.