Blake Shelton brought his good ‘ole boy charm and musical chops to the KeyBank Center Friday, delivering without flaw what his fans came to see: nearly two dozen songs from his 20-year country music career.
From more recent singles like “Sangria” and “Came Here to Forget” to older fan favorites like “Some Beach,” “Honey Bee” and his sweet, much-loved debut single “Austin,” he took the crowd through it all with high energy, easy-going banter and good humor.
Shelton—famous for his strong, smooth voice if you’re into country music, famous for being a coach on “The Voice” if you’re not—crooned his way through most of his set, yet found a growly edge for twangy, turn-up-the-radio classic “’Ol’ Red” and the slightly cringe-inducing “Kiss My Country Ass.”
The concert kept the arena rocking almost without pause for a full three hours, but as the man himself said, the best part of the night wasn’t Blake Shelton. It was the cast of “Friends and Heroes” that gave this tour its name.
John Anderson, the Bellamy Brothers, and Trace Adkins—three country acts from decades past—played mini-sets of their own during the show. Shelton credited their influence multiple times throughout the night as being the reason he wanted to get into country music, and his genuine admiration of them and joy at getting to share a stage with his idols was obvious.
Anderson’s top reaction came from “Swingin,’” a catchy, honky-tonk number that helped him break into the business back in 1982. The Bellamy Brothers stood out with “Let Your Love Flow,” a bright and folky crossover hit from 1976.
Trace Adkins and his distinctive, booming baritone received thunderous applause to the derriere-appreciating “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” (2005). He also teamed up with Shelton for their 2010 hit “Hillbilly Bone.”
The most special part of the night came near the end, when Shelton and all his guests gathered at the end of the catwalk extending from the main stage armed with just microphones and guitars to perform an acoustic set. There was a whole initial bit about it being a competition which could have been omitted entirely—the simple set up allowed each act to truly shine, and didn’t need the cheesy intro.
Shelton kicked things off with “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,” while Adkins sang the plaintive “Every Light in the House” from his 1996 debut album, one of those songs that every longtime country fan, no matter how casual, somehow knows the words to. The Bellamy Brothers gave the crowd "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me" from 1979, delivered soft and sweet, and Anderson closed the session out with another '90s hit, “Straight Tequila Night.”
Opening the evening was Lauren Alaina, the runner-up on Season 10 of “American Idol.” She ran through her some of her hits to a receptive crowd, though the music seemed to overpower her voice at points. Alaina came back out during Blake’s set to perform the duet “Lonely Tonight” with him, holding her own with the veteran performer and clearly having a great time doing it.
Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 in KeyBank Center
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