Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
uch has changed since Cole Swindell played a WKLB radio show two years ago in the same venue. First of all, he was headlining the sold-out club for the station's holiday show, not gigging as one of four acts that hadn't even released an album as he did in 2013. The Georgian also has enjoyed three number one singles since then, not to mention a host of songwriting credits for buds like Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan.
Yes life is good for Swindell. So good that he said this was the "best year of my life" near the end of his 78-minute show.
It's not hard to see why when you have an enthusiastic crowd ready to party on the Thursday night intro to the weekend. And with a young crowd dominating the audience, the drinking songs went down awfully easy.
Swindell is part of the bro-country crowd dominated by FGL and Bryan. And that means a lot of songs where drinking and chicks were key ingredients.
In the hands of Swindell, that meant not a wide musical swath and certainly one that was far more rock than country. There was no twang to be heard on this evening with about the only country elements being the use of the word "country" in a few songs.
References to drinking, beer and whiskey were far more the norm.
Swindell did an adequate job singing. He certainly can hold his own when he stays within a narrow range, which he did most of the night. Frankly, the Bryan hit "Roller Coaster," for example, was better off with his smooth as silk voice, not Swindell's. Nor did he match the soulfulness of Thomas Rhett's take of "Get Me Some of That," which Swindell helped write.
Swindell opted for songs that seemed tailor mad for radio, whether released as singles or not.
Curiously, Swindell did not play his upcoming new single, "You Should've Been Here," which goes to radio on Monday.
He also opened his encore with "Big Green Tractor," a Jason Aldean song and "Don't Happen Twice," a hit for Kenny Chesney. Now, Swindell has a chunk of songs that are recorded by others, but neither of those was a Swindell song. Nor did he happen to turn in a more convincing performance than Aldean or Chesney.
Swindell would have been better off with his own material. He certainly has enough of it.
Swindell redeemed himself on the remainder of the encore with a one-two punch of "This is How We Roll," a big hit for Florida Georgia Line, which Swindell wrote with FGL and Luke Bryan, and his own "Ain't Worth the Whiskey," with perhaps his most impassioned singing of the night.
Swindell, who came off as sufficiently likable, ought to have enough confidence in himself not need to tread upon the worn out idea of wearing a Red Sox jersey to bond with the crowd. Or where two different hats with "CS" (as in "Cole Swindell") written on them. Or a lot of backing video of himself, sometimes singing the song Swindell was performing live.
Swindell may not have the vocal chops of those he has helped pen the hits for, but with the knack for churning out radio ready songs, it's no surprise that two years after he played the House, Swindell turned it into his own house party.
Swindell friend Adam Sanders opened with a similarly-minded set. That's not a surprise given that he helped write "Ain't Worth the Whiskey" and also has Bryant to count among those who have recorded his songs. Sanders came out to sing part of "Ain't Worth the Whiskey." Sanders is following in good footsteps.