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Double bill of Moore, McBryde add up to night to remember

The Fairplex, Pomona, Cal., May 28, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

There is probably no better place to honor Memorial Day than a county fair and no better soundtrack than country music. Furthermore, there are few better country artists to take on that role and responsibility than Justin Moore. In front of a crowd already primed to party in the three-day weekend, it was the perfect moment for Moore to shine. He did just that with a solid, hit-filled set.

Speaking of near perfection, the appropriate song for this occasion was Moore's "The Ones The Didn't Come Back Home." Lyrically, it salutes those that fought for their country, but didn't return after the battle. The crowd showed their appreciation by patriotically chanting "U-S-A" after Moore finished singing it. Moore received a similar warm response after singing "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away," which speaks to the hope of one day being reunited with loved ones that have passed on. It's not uncommon to hear country artists sing patriotic songs and say patriotic things, but with Moore, one got the sense that he really means what he sings and says about his country.

Moore didn't forget that this crowd also came to party, which is why his set was heavy on drinking songs, like "Why We Drink," "You Look Like I Need a Drink" and a recent single, "Get Rich Or Drunk Tying." Many in this crowd took his advice and got drunk, like one girl in my row that required medical attention – *+/or the woman that got lost trying to find her car in the parking lot afterwards. We can only hope they all arrived home safely.

When it came to love songs, Moore is more of a fidelity-song guy, than one that sings cheating songs. This approach was best exemplified by "Til My Last Day" and "With A Woman You Love," which painted the artist as a decidedly one-woman man.

While not an especially distinctive vocalist, nor a flashy guitarist (like, say, Brad Paisley), Moore is nevertheless a strong singer, which he revealed with his performance on the show-closing cover of Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home." He's amassed a fair number of radio hits, which gave this happy audience plenty of familiar tunes with which to sing along. His band made these hits sound just a bit country-er live, which was a bonus.

Ashley McBryde, who is a far more adventurous songwriter, opened the show with an impressive hour-long set. She sprinkled in a few new songs, along with more tried-and-true material. These new additions included the lifestyle evaluation in "The Devil I Know," as well as the sensitive and personal "Light On In The Kitchen." She jokingly referred to herself and her backing band as a bar band, which is why she also threw in a cover of Pam Tillis' "Maybe It Was Memphis," which presumably reminded her of her pre-stardom bar band days. Although it was no replacement for a full McBryde headlining set, this smaller taste was nevertheless a wonderful slightly smaller dose.

All in all, for those that left the venue sober enough to recall it, this double bill of country music (with a side of patriotism) added up to one fine night to remember.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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