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Flatt out fun: Country concert gets fans on their feet

Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Eli Young Band and Eden's Edge played Friday night at Memorial Coliseum.

Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 6:56 am

It wouldn't be a country concert without some drama, right?

At the Rascal Flatts concert Friday night, I watched a guy in front of me get progressively drunker while his wife got progressively madder. Finally, she could take no more and stormed up the stairs. He tried to follow, staggered, fell, stumbled up the steps, and was gone. I bet it was a long ride home

But with them out of the picture, I could turn my full attention to the concert, and what a concert it was. Can't say how Eden's Edge was, because we didn't get there in time for the first act, but the other three bands were in fine form.

The Eli Young Band had a short set -- they only played 30 minutes -- but , of course, got in both their hits, "Crazy Girl" and "Even if it Breaks Your Heart."

The stage was extended out into the audience, so the performers could get up close and personal with the well-mannered crowd.

Eli Young Band, and all the other bands, for that matter, really interacted with the crowd, shaking hands and making eye contact.

When Little Big Town came out, it was impossible not to notice how svelte and pretty lead singers Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman are with their impossibly long legs and slim figures. Where have the Dolly Partons of the country world gone?

Fairchild had a way of talking to the crowd that felt like she was talking to us personally. She said she's a fellow Hoosier, originally from Griffith.

The only clunker of the night, in my opinion, was when Little Big Town turned Lady Gaga's "Born this Way" into an acoustic country song. My head felt like it wanted to explode. It was just wrong. I think country acts can segue pretty well into rock and roll, but Lady Gaga? Eh, no.

Although I must admit, it was refreshing to hear a country band sing a song about the importance of accepting yourself, even if you're "gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered ..."

Getting back to its own music, Little Big Town played "Tornado," a song off its new album of the same name. After that, the band wrapped up its set on a strong note with "Pontoon," which got the house on its feet, and followed that with "Boondocks," which charted way back in 2005 but somehow never gets old.

Then it was time for Rascal Flatts. The trio spent a lot of time on the part of the stage that extended out into the audience. At one point, they asked the crowd to shout out any Rascal Flatts songs they wanted to hear played. It was OK, but the band got better when they got back to performing their concert set, which included most of their hits -- and they've had a lot of them.

A drum solo followed by a guitar solo was a nice way to lead into the raucous "Me and My Gang."

When they performed my favorite Rascal Flatts song, "Life is a Highway," they showed pictures from the animated movie "Cars" on big screens on the stage.

The band wrapped up the show with "What Hurts the Most," then brought out members of all the preceding acts to do a cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band."

It was a fitting end to the show, even if it was a rock 'n roll song, not a country song.