Concert: Rascal Flatts in Phoenix
Rascal Flatts' show Thursday (9/6) at Phoenix's Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion was the perfect mix of pop-inspired country music and Southern humor -- exactly what fans expect from the Grammy-winning group.
And the well-lubricated, sold-out crowd, who sat through most of the sets by openers Edens Edge, Eli Young Band and Little Big Town, ate it up straight from Rascal Flatts' arrival on stage. Fans jumped to their feet as soon as the trio -- singer Gary Le Vox, bassist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney -- appeared before them surrounded by long strings of lights.
The band kicked off the show with "Banjo," which, ironically, revealed very little banjo as the instrument barely audible within the mix. The anthem "Summer Nights" was well-received, then LeVox, who was born Gerald Vernon Jr., let the crowd take lead on "Fast Cars and Freedom's" chorus.
The setlist focused on Rascal Flatts' hits, along with a few selections from the group's latest album, "Changed." The band briefly broke away from that formula to play a handful of cover songs, including "Open Arms" by Journey, Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" and Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band," during which Rascal Flatts was joined by all three openers.
The nearly 90-minute show was fan friendly. LeVox asked the crowd to shout out requests, which resulted in snippets of songs like "Prayin' for Daylight." Eventually, the group and its audience members settled on the tale of innocence lost "Mayberry."
Rascal Flatts' set was top notch, and gave fans everything they desired, including "Bless The Broken Road" and their popular cover of Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway" from the "Cars" soundtrack.
Little Big Town's performance was just as stellar -- if not more. The quartet -- Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet -- gave fans a sweet sneak peek of the new album, "Tornado," which hit stores earlier this week.
Their voices were strong, showing they have the chops to headline amphitheaters themselves. Led by Fairchild and Schlapman, "Pontoon," the band's first No. 1 and the debut single from "Tornado," came across as sexy and fun. The title track was an amazing collaboration among all four of them. In "Sober," also off "Tornado," the foursome yearns to go to heaven tipsy. Hopefully, "Tornado" does for Little Big Town what the show portrayed -- that the band is one of the most talented out there.
Rascal Flatts' setlist:
"Fast Cars and Freedom"
"Come Wake Me Up"
"Hot In Here"
"Prayin' For Daylight"
"Lean On Me" (Bill Withers cover)
"Open Arms" (Journey cover)
"Bless the Broken Road"
"Me and My Gang"
"Life Is a Highway" (Tom Cochrane cover)
"Here's To You"
"What Hurts the Most"
"We're An American Band" (Grand Funk Railroad cover)
13 - Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre
14 - Irvine, CA - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
15 - Chula Vista, CA - Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
27 - Columbus, GA - Columbus Civic Center
28 - Pensacola, FL - Pensacola Civic Center
29 - Gainesville, FL - Stephen C. O'Connell Center
4 - Toledo, OH - The Huntington Center
5 - Fort Wayne, IN - Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
6 - Grand Rapids, MI - Van Andel Arena
12 - Hamilton, Ontario - Copps Coliseum
13 - London, Ontario - The John Labatt Centre
18 - Greenville, SC - Bi-Lo Center
20 - Atlanta, GA - Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood
26 - Tampa, FL - 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre
27 - West Palm Beach, FL - Cruzan Amphitheatre