Cars clog the Tinley Park exit ramps on I-80 all the way to the highway, gravel in the parking lot crunches under cowboy boots and the moon shines down on a crowd dotted with cutoff jeans and cowboy hats. It must be the first big country music concert of the summer in Chicagoland.
Last night Brad Paisley delivered an hour and a half show jam-packed with fan favorites and a few sneak peaks of his tenth studio album due out in August. The country superstar got up close and personal with his fans throughout the show, grabbing phones from the crowd to take onstage videos, signing his acoustic guitar and gifting it to a lucky fan and taking a stroll through the seated section of the amphitheater to a B stage in the 200 section.
His production offered a wacky and fun atmosphere during upbeat songs, with everything from a guy in a caricature Paisley head running around stage during his song “Celebrity,” to images of Captain America on the video screens during “American Saturday Night.” Paisley even battled with a DJ, who would play a song and challenge Paisley to mirror it on guitar- starting with “Sweet Home Alabama” and running through a variety of genres to end with “Let It Go” from the animated movie “Frozen.” Between the fun, Paisley left room for more heartfelt moments, singing “Then” acoustic on his B-stage and bringing out a very realistic hologram of Carrie Underwood to duet on “Remind Me” with just two spotlights on an otherwise dark stage.
Who better to kick off outdoor concert season at First Midwest Bank Amphitheater than Paisley, with songs about off-roading, swimming and enjoying a nice cold beer? As intro to his song, “Beat This Summer,” Paisley told the crowd, “In Tennessee we had the worst winter of our life, and I don’t know about Chicago, but I bet it was no picnic here either. (Summer 2014), now’s our time to get revenge.” Challenge accepted.