I attended the American Saturday Night Tour 2009 on August 15 featuring contemporary country superstar, Brad Paisley, with Dierks Bentley and Jimmy Wayne. The event was at the beautiful Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey. Paisley has been playing to a number of sellout amphitheaters across the nation, but even I was surprised by the volume of country fans that showed up in Camden/Philadelphia.
Jimmy Wayne took the stage at 7:30 p.m. to a half-full crowd. I wasn’t too familiar with his music, but what I saw was that he had good stage presence, good energy, and a really good voice. Towards the end of his set, he performed his recent hit, “Do You Believe Me Now” and really wowed the audience with his emotional hit song. That track’s been on my playlist ever since.
Next, the popular Dierks Bentley put on one hell of a show. Opening up with his mega-hit “Sideways” he immediately got the crowd up on their feet and clapping along. He was relentlessly running around the stage, singing to every part of the audience and generating many rounds of applause. He continued to bang out the hits by playing “Feel That Fire”, “Settle For a Slowdown”, “Come a Little Closer”, “What Was I Thinkin'”, and “Free and Easy.” For the Bentley fans, it was one hell of a setlist. For the others, the name Dierks Bentley will be remembered.
And finally, the crowd waited anxiously for the headliner of the night. When Brad Paisley finally walked out on the stage alone, the venue exploded with a deafening roar. He walked to the edge of the center catwalk, sat down at the stool, and started playing the first song off his setlist, “Start a Band.” Since that’s a duet with fellow country-artist Keith Urban, it was cut short. He immediately switched to his electric guitar and transitioned into his latest album’s self-titled track, “American Saturday Night.” Needless to say, he brought the entire amphitheater down with the rocking track. The stage was illuminated by six gigantic LCD screens with animations, a live video feed, designs, etc. The footage displayed were so entertaining I found myself watching that instead of the band on numerous occasions.
Anyway back to the show… Brad played a fantastic set touching on a large amount of his #1 hits that topped the Country charts throughout his entire career including “Mud on the Tires”, “I’m Gonna Miss Her” and every #1 single during his record setting, ten consecutive chart-topping singles streak. Early in his set, he played “Water” off of his new album, a song dedicated to his love for… well water. He then proposed a plan for everyone to go skinny-dipping after the show in the Delaware River by explaining, “The cops wouldn’t even know what to do.” Brad’s humor really made his already great performance that much better.
Towards the middle of his setlist, Paisley and company performed an incredible instrumental block including two tracks off of his instrumental album “Play”: “Huckleberry Jam” and “Cliffs of Rock City.” Those are two of my favorite tracks off the album so I was thrilled to watch Brad completely shred the fretboard of his guitar. He is truly one of guitar’s greatest players at the moment. I was just a tad disappointed he didn’t play his Grammy-winning instrumental track “Throttleneck.” Oh well.
After the vocal hiatus, he returned with more hits “The World” and “Letters to Me” (one of my favorite songs from Brad). Then he played the sentimental “When I Get Where I’m Going” that featured a picture montage of people who have recently passed away. He dedicated the song to Les Paul. I admit that I was deeply moved by the combination of seeing the faces of so many greats along with hearing Brad singing with so much emotion. This was definitely one of the best moments of the entire evening.
To conclude his set, he brought everyone back to their feet with more rocking songs like “Ticks” and “Online.” Finally, before he left the stage he said, “I hope you’re in love tonight, and if you’re not, I hope you fall in love tonight” and went into his love-ballad “Then.” It didn’t take long for Brad to come back out for his two-song encore. He played his insanely popular hit, “Alcohol” where he brought out Jimmy Wayne and Dierks Bentley to sing along. The party continued for one more song as Brad covered Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” You could tell that Brad didn’t want to stop playing… Hell, he stretched those final two songs out to at least 15 minutes. He could play his guitar for hours and there wouldn’t be a dull moment.
Overall, this is one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. On top of that statement, my expectations were very high and the fact he exceeded my anticipation proves how high I rank this concert. Seeing his insane guitar skills live was mesmerizing. And let me say this for the record… there is no concert like a Country concert. I’ve never seen a bunch of more loyal fans than the large group at the Susquehanna Center. The countless number of cars tailgating hours before the concert, listening to Country music, drinking, and having a great time just made this experience even more memorable. There wasn’t a soul in the 25,000 capacity venue that wasn’t having a good time. All of the dancing, singing, and smiling were contagious throughout the night.
I didn’t know it was possible, but I’m somehow a bigger fan of Brad Paisley than I was prior to the concert. Now it’s time for the ACM to give him the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award.
Set List (not exactly in correct order):
Start a Band
American Saturday Night
Mud on the Tires
Waitin’ On a Woman
I’m Still a Guy
Catch All the Fish
I’m Gonna Miss Her
Instrumental – Huckleberry Jam & Cliffs of Rock City
Letter to Me
When I Get Where I’m Going
Boys of Summer (cover)
And now for a few photos from the concert: