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Too many toys can ruin a good thing

It would be fun to see what Brad Paisley could do without all the toys. I suspect he'd be really good.

But Paisley, as he performed before a nearly full house of just under 10,000 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, is part of the Nashville music machine, so the toys shared center stage with the talented singer-songwriter Friday night.

The result was a show that brought a sense of state-of-the-art spectacle to the evening with some innovative staging and lighting.

But what will fans take away from the show? My guess is they'll remember Paisley's "Speed Racer"-style video -- apparently produced by the singer himself -- that played behind the "Zoom Paisley" country-surf instrumental.

They'll remember Paisley's duet with Alison Krauss on "Whiskey Lullaby" -- with the video image and audio recording of Krauss standing in for the real thing.

They'll recall the goofy, camp and politically incorrect video that ran behind the band during "Folsom Prison Blues."There were times when the technology overshadowed the performance, like during the situation-comedy-styled video for "Celebrity," in which country legend Little Jimmy Dickens walks away with the girl.

There's probably no use bewailing the situation; it's the way of the Nashville world today. But Paisley really wouldn't need to rely on it.

Openers Jack Ingram and Kellie Pickler had no such concerns with technology.

Pickler, the former "American Idol" contestant, has a personality that's just too effervescent to contain -- as well as enough twitches and vamps to keep the guys in the audience interested. She may just be on her way to Dollyhood; like Dolly Parton, she writes her own songs and has a personality that just won't quit.

Ingram, meanwhile, appears to have taken a slight turn toward Jack Lite, softening his approach for a mainstream country audience some. But the guy is still probably too smart for his own good.

During "Barbie Doll," his ode to the better endowed but more empty-headed among us -- opened with chords straight out of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" -- he urged the audience to sing along, suggesting the Barbies in the audience wouldn't realize it was about them.

"They aren't cursed with self-awareness," he said.



Brad Paisley With Jack Ingram and Kellie Pickler on Friday night in Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

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