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Paisley comes off as rusty, but right

Staples Center, Los Angeles, January 25, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Brad Paisley apologized for being a little rusty early in his set, with this being his first show of 2018. If he forgot a few lyrics here and there, though, it didn't matter because Paisley is such a seasoned performer - everything appeared to go smoothly.

Some of the best moments in Paisley's show took place when he sang songs with his three opening acts. It was welcome, for instance, to hear Dustin Lynch sing some traditional country with "I'm Still a Guy." It also helped that Paisley had a female duet partner in Lindsay Ell for "Whiskey Lullaby," which ended with some fine dueling guitar between these two talented guitarists. It was also fun to watch Paisley kid with three Los Angeles Dodgers during "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)," where Kyle Farmer even gave the crowd his best Luke Bryan impression.

Paisley filled his show with plenty of humor, taking shots at (among other things) masculinity, celebrity and online culture. He opened on a semi-serious note with "Last Time for Everything," which included a few choruses of the late Prince's "Purple Rain." He closed with "Today," a touching song about our most positively memorable days. Songs like "Perfect Storm" and "Then" revealed his skill with sincere love songs.

Whether pulling at heartstrings or playing for laughs, Paisley sang well and demonstrated his great guitar work. With both a fiddler and a steel guitar player in the band, Paisley makes 'keeping it country' look easy and natural. He may be rusty, but he's right.

Lynch preceded Paisley with a mostly forgettable set of pop/rock, although his dedication of "Cowboys and Angels" to his grandparents 60-plus year marriage was touching. Chase Bryant was clearly thrilled to be playing this venue, as he recalled a time when he attended a KISS concert at Staples Center, back when he lived in Woodland Hills. He vowed then that he'd be on this stage in 10 years. Nine years later, here he was. With his leather jacket and tough-guy attitude, his cover of John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses" was perfectly appropriate. Ell made the best of her short opening set with a fine performance of "Criminal," which sounded a little like pre-pop Taylor Swift.

Although this Thursday night show technically wasn't a weekend date, Paisley and his supporting acts sure made it feel like a weekend.

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