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Allan goes home, for the first time

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, La Mirada, Cal., July 16, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

"It only took me 25 years to play in my hometown," Gary Allan joked at one point during his fully satisfying concert. He later told the audience how it was this same La Mirada Theatre where he attended his first concert, an Ernest Tubb concert he took in as a young man. Therefore, when he sang his hit, "Right Where I Need To Be" early on, its statement took on a whole new special and personal meaning.

Backed by a large, seven-piece band, which included a fiddler and a steel guitar player, Allan rocked loud at times, but also incorporated more than enough decidedly country content to keep pretty much everybody happy. While still performing all the hits, Allan also found plenty of room for songs from his recent "Ruthless" album, including the title track. The best of these cuts was the sensitive "SEX," which he played accompanied only by his acoustic guitar.

Other highlights included a tender turn on "Tough Little Boys," which he dedicated to all the fathers in the house, and "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" that was effectively accompanied by the song's music video shown on the behind-stage big screen. That same screen featured a continuous running video of cigarette smoke while Allan sang "Smoke Rings in the Dark."

Allan had the audience singing along during the precipitation namedropping song "Songs About Rain," and especially loudly while doing "Life Ain't Always Beautiful," which he dedicated to those that lost someone during the COVID pandemic.

At various points, Allan pointed out people he knew in the audience. Having so many friends there, clearly upped the singer's enthusiasm level. Yet with the large number of hit songs Allan has compiled over the years, it was a little sadly surprising to still see empty seats in this 1,261-seat venue. He may not be the most popular male vocalist in country music, but he certainly proved to one of the best this night.



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