At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Friday, May 19.
Reviewed by Rebecca Howes
A shadow of a tall, lean man in a cowboy hat; the spinning globe
illuminated on the giant screen; a booming voice announcing the
countdown to the star performer. Complete with pyrotechnics,
animation, videos, laser lights, and three giant screens, this was
not your typical country concert. Under the stars at the Santa
Barbara Bowl last Friday night, Brad Paisley proved that he is
anything but typical. It’s a good thing that the Bowl doesn’t have
a roof, because it would have been blown off.
Clad in blue jeans, a T-shirt, boots, and a cowboy hat and
seeming at home onstage, Paisley immediately captured the audience
with “The World,” which was carried by his contagious energy and
fast-as-lightning string-picking upon his paisley-decorated
guitars. “Mud on the Tires” featured a four-wheeling video that
looked more like an Abercrombie & Fitch advertisement, with
good-looking women and men playing football in the mud. The women
in the audience screamed when the music to “Little Moments” began.
With his face projected on the big screens, you could see his long
eyelashes and handsome features. Paisley had no trouble showing his
softer side and actually came across as more manly for doing
Paisley’s famed sense of humor shone through during “I’ll Take
You Back,” as the giant screen behind him started showing pictures
of Clint Eastwood playing the fiddle in a ballerina costume and
Bill Clinton playing a keyboard with a cigar in his mouth. The most
touching moment during the evening was when he played “When I Get
Where I’m Going,” which was originally a duet with Dolly Parton. As
he played it alone brilliantly, images of those who touched our
lives before they passed away — such as Johnny Cash, John Ritter,
Chet Atkins, John F. Kennedy, Johnny Carson, John Belushi, Ronald
Reagan, and John Wayne — were projected on the screens.
Other songs featured Paisley-created animation and lively
videos, which — coupled with Paisley’s awesome stage
presence — kept the audience enthralled and entertained during the
90-minute set. The fast pace of the concert ensured that the crowd
would not have a chance to experience boredom — there was barely
enough time to sip an adult beverage between songs. Indeed, the
evening matched the name of Brad Paisley’s latest album, Time Well
Wasted. Most definitely.