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Oh well. Rhett gives crowd what the want

FivePoint Amphitheatre, Irvine, Cal., August 5, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

There's a saying, 'Give the people what they want,' which Thomas Rhett clearly lived by at his first of two local concerts. Although he's recorded more country-leaning music recently, his live shows are anything but country. His fans come to sing along to (mostly) light lyrics and dance to the good beats. Rhett plays the welcoming host, and most attendees go home happy. However, recent recordings – such as "Death Row" – reveal how he could give his followers much more -- if he so chooses. Alas, though, he lived by less challenging choices.

He's calling this his "Bring the Bar" tour, and drinking is a big part of his live repertoire. In fact, one of the highlights was when he brought back openers Conner Smith and Parker McCollum to help him sing "Beer Can't Fix." Interestingly, at 21, Smith is just barely old enough to drink. This trio also sang a bit of Brooks & Dunn's "Neon Moon" together. Yes, Rhett does have a few serious numbers, including the reflective "Die A Happy Man" and family oriented "Remember You Young." However, songs like the lusty opener, "Craving You," were more representative of what Rhett likes to do during his shows.

It's difficult to dislike Rhett, as he's such a seemingly nice guy. However, one is left wishing he'd give his audience what they need (meaning more substantive music) as well as what they want.

McCollum preceded Rhett and revealed how much he's grown and matured since last coming through town with Dierks Bentley. Emotional songs, such as "To Be Loved By You" and "Pretty Heart" just felt more heartfelt this time out. McCollum also looked and sounded much more relaxed and easily turned in the best set of the night.

Baby-faced Conner Smith bookended his set with two quality songs, "Somewhere In a Small Town" and "Learn From It," and sang a couple fine covers (Eric Church's "Drink in My Hand" and Big & Rich's "Save a Horse") in between. He appeared about as green as McCollum seemed last time, so more seasoning is definitely in order.

Say what you will about Rhett's song choices, but it was only a few months ago when he headlined one night of the massive Stagecoach Festival. To come back so soon, and for two successive dates, reveals just how much he's at the top of his commercial game right now. Let's hope he matches his commercial game with a better artistic approach next time through.

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