By Mike McKenney, Rock At Night New England
Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA-August 17, 2019–George Strait, Blake Shelton with openers Caitlyn Smith and Cody Johnson
Perhaps fittingly, on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, what had started as a beautiful warm summer day, suddenly turned into a deluge of driving rain. Through most of Blake Shelton’s set, the heavens opened up on the 40 thousand plus in attendance. Absent the famous Woodstock “No Rain No Rain” chant, Shelton made the best of the situation by performing flawlessly in his typical playful style.
Opening with “Neon Light “, ”All About Tonight”, and “Doin’ What She Likes” , Shelton has a song that appeals to everyone. The softer “Sangria”, and “Gonna” with their familiar texture give way to the lighter drinking songs “Some beach”, and “Boys ‘Round Here”.
On multiple occasions throughout his performance, Shelton expressed to the crowd how excited he was too be opening for the “King of Country, George Strait”.
Blake also debuted a new song “Hell Right” telling the crowd “it was the first time playing that song live”. “God’s Country”, one of his newest hits brought a roar of approval from the crowd.
Shelton kept the audience engaged even as the weather worsened, applauding everyone for staying through the rain and promising he “Would never forget this night”. As if on command from Country music’s royal “King George”, the rain relinquished when he graced the stage in the home of the “World Champion New England Patriots”. Since the early 80’s George Strait has dominated the country music scene. With over 100 million records sold worldwide, every song Strait sings is a country mega hit. “I saw God Today”, “Here For a Good Time”, “Amarillo By Morning”, Strait plows through his performance, with his easy laid back style, pausing only to honor a wounded Veteran by giving him a new house!
Backed by some of the greatest musicians of any genre, his ten piece, Ace In the Hole Band, George Strait gives the consummate concert every time he steps on a stage. Smooth and rich, Strait still conducts his vocals on the low end. “Give It Away”, “Check Yes or No”, and “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” were textbook George Strait with the crowd singing along with every word.
In June 2014 George Strait, marked a new record for largest indoor concert in North America when he drew 104,793 people into Texas’ Arlington stadium, and while this crowd was not the largest, they showed a lot of heart. Enduring the heat and rain, no one sat down and no one left until George Strait returned for a three song encore of “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”, Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” and “The Cowboy Runs Away”
Setting the stage for icons Blake Shelton and George Strait seems a daunting task, but openers Caitlyn Smith and Cody Johnson were up for the job.
Named one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “10 New Artists You Need To Know”, Singer/Songwriter, Caitlyn Smith made the most of her opportunity. The title track of her latest release “Starfire” and “Before You Call Me Baby” were impressive. However, Smith absolutely blew the audience away with her powerful vocals on a Carole King cover of “Natural Woman”.
The patriotic Cody Johnson was a natural to play in the home of the “World Champion New England Patriots”. The early crowd at Gillette obliged when Johnson asked them to stand and honor the nations Servicemen/woman and First Responders.
Johnson displayed his high energy style with “Honky Tonk Mood”, ‘Long Haired Country Boy” and for his legion of fans in his CoJo Nation, “Y’all People”.
Two of country’s mega stars, two up and coming country stars, six hours of great country music, all in one of the best venues add up to the best country experience of the summer!
Mike McKenney is an award winning professional photographer and current New England Correspondent for Rock At Night magazine.
With his years of experience and passion for Concert Photography, Mike has photographed many of the famous acts in the world today.
Rock Icons such as Sting, Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews, and Fleetwood Mac along with Country artist Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney,and Jason Aldean have all appeared before Mike’s camera.
"My goal is always to present the experience truthfully so fans can feel the energy and emotions the Artists convey. It’s a tremendous honor and responsibility to be allowed to create art while blending my two passions, music and photography”
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