LITTLE ROCK Still at the top of his game, country star Brad Paisley returned to Central Arkansas just about two years since his last visit, giving the 7,495 fans who attended Thursday’s show at Verizon Arena a nearly two-hour show and 20 tunes.
The West Virginia native, who turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, last performed in Central Arkansas in the fall of 2010 just days after being named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year. Since then, the singer, guitarist, and songwriter released a new album (This is Country Music), will release his his ninth, as-yet-unnamed album next April, has been again nominated for the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year award, and will - for the fifth time - co-host the awards show with Carrie Underwood.
Paisley, who turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, is a child of the MTV generation and it shows in the wealth of multi-media, video and animation which he created.
He launched his show with his hit “The World.” Paisley, as he did in his 2010 show, sang “Waitin’ on a Woman” as video of him with his friend Andy Griffith played in the background but the performance was made more poignant with Griffith’s passing this July.
Opening act Scotty McCreery, the winner of the 10th season of FOX’s American Idol returned to the stage during Paisley’s set to perform “Celebrity.” A highlight of the show was Paisley’s duet, “Whiskey Lullaby” recorded with Allison Krauss but performed Thursday with Kimberly Perry from The Band Perry which opened for Paisely.
“Mud on the Tires” and “I’m Gonna Miss Her” had the crowd singing along. Paisley again turned to multi-media with Carrie Underwood appearing in a pre-recorded image during “Remind Me.”
For the encore, “Alcohol,” aspiring young guitarist and Beebe resident Luke Williams, a friend of Paisley’s joined him on stage to play, a special treat for Arkansans in the know (Williams wasn’t introduced).
Before Paisley’s set, the country singing sibling trio The Band Perry gave a strong, energetic40-minute nine-song set. Their biggest hit to date “If I Die Young” brought the group crossover success and the Verizon crowd knew all the words, taking over as Kimberly left it to the audience to sing a portion of it accapella.
Kicking off the evening’s show with a seven-song, 25-minute set, McCreery pleased the audience, especially with his coronation song from American Idol, “I Love You This Big.”