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Music Review

Blake Shelton delivers plenty of Arkansas

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published June 23, 2014 at 12:58 a.m.

Descending to the Verizon Arena Stage from a giant prop silo during party anthem "About Tonight," country singer Blake Shelton channeled his home state of Oklahoma.

But Shelton also delivered plenty of Arkansas to the sold-out crowd of 13,962 Sunday night.

Not only did Shelton, who disclosed his grandma is from Russellville, have his Arkie fiddle player — Jenee Fleenor from Springdale — call the Hogs, he sang a few bars of "Lettin' The Night Roll" by Poyen's own Justin Moore before stopping abruptly.

"You know what would be better?" Shelton asked the audience, before inviting Moore to the stage to perform his own hit.

Another musician that Shelton, a judge on NBC's singing competition The Voice, introduced was Gwen Sebastian, a contestant he mentored on the show's second season and a backup singer in his seven-member band. The two performed their intimate duet "My Eyes," a single from Based on a True Story ..., his latest album.

While billed as the Ten Times Crazier Tour, much of Shelton's two-hour set was subdued and heavy on ballads, including "She Wouldn't Be Gone," "Nobody But Me," "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," "Sure Be Cool If You Did," "Over," "Austin" and a cellphones-raised rendition of Michael Buble's "Home," before closing the night with "God Gave Me You."

But they were adequately spaced between enough rowdy numbers — including two George Jones' covers "Kiss My Country A**" and "Ol' Red," as well as his own "The More I Drink" "Hillbilly Bone," and "Boys 'Round Here" — that Shelton is in no danger of having to turn in his good ol' boy card.

Opening for Shelton was family trio The Band Perry whose members — Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry — were backed by four additional musicians during their nearly hour-long set. Highlights included the driving "Done," the feisty "Chainsaw," and the determined "Better Dig Two." The audience nearly drowned out the threesome on "If I Die Young."

The audience singing was "one of the coolest moments of my life, thank you," said Shay Mooney, half of opening act Dan + Shay with Dan Smyers. Mooney, an Arkansas native who had only been a spectator at Verizon Arena shows, was moved to hear thousands know the words to their hit "19 You + Me."

Introducing the show and keeping up the momentum during set changes was country legend Neal McCoy who performed as much comedy as he did music during songs that ranged from his own hits like "The Shake," to an unlikely mashup of Hank Williams' "Kaw-Liga," Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

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