Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
on Pardi foreshadowed where he would soon be coming from with the songs played before he would hit the stage before a sold-out crowd. "9 to 5" from Dolly. "Dust On the Bottle" courtesy of David Lee Murphy. "Fishin' in the Dark" piped in from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. And a bunch of others. No rockers. No hip hop.
And that was the territory Pardi occupied in this most excellent show. While Pardi seemingly has wrestled whether he is a country singer or a rock artist in past outings, that question was settled tonight on the former.
Maybe that should come as no surprise given his three-week-old fourth album, the appropriately titled for this night anyway "Mr. Saturday Night." The release is, by far, his best and most consistent album yet. The disc concentrates on life at the bar. So, it's no wonder that a hefty dose of drinking songs populated the Californian's set.
And Pardi seemed to up the ante at this show, fortunately increasing the number of songs he played from the new disc. For some artists, that could be risky given that the audience may be unfamiliar with the material instead of the tried-and-true hits. Not only was Pardi not the least bit worried, but the crowd was along for the ride.
So when you start with "Tie One On," you know it's going to be a good night. Yeah, Pardi was wearing a cowboy hat, but it wasn't the sartorial splendor that made the man. It was the music. He had help in the dress category as five of the musicians including Pardi sported white cowboy hats.
And while it may be a given in traditional country music that fiddle and pedal steel should be integral instruments for any country singer, that, of course, is no longer the case these days. But Pardi gave both plenty of musical space, especially fiddle player Billy McClaran.
Over the course of the night, Pardi pulled out lots of good material from the title track, "Mr. Saturday Night" to the new "Your Heart or Mine" to a few cowboy songs, "Cowboy Hat" and "Ain't Always the Cowboy."
About the only misstep was when Pardi tried to go rock – make that hard rock -with Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam." Now, it wasn't the quality of the song because Pardi and The All-Nighters shredded it (and it was certainly different to hear fiddle as part of the mix), but it had nothing to do with the rest of the set.
After rocking out, Pardi turned in a most welcome three-song acoustic set with "All Time High," a superb cover of Midland's "Longneck Way to Go," which is also on "Mr. Saturday Night" and "Missin' You Crazy."
Pardi mixed old and new in a six-song encore going the boots route, starting with the hit "Dirt On My Boots" and closing with the honky tonker "Head Over Boots." In between, he included the new "Neon Light Speed" and a curious inclusion of "The Star Spangled Banner" with only McClaran. Nice effort for sure, but going the patriotic route and Pardi trumpeting his pride at being an American seemed gratuitous.
Pardi did not an overwhelm when it came to personality. Commenting how much he liked coming to Boston at least three different times seemed two times too many, but Pardi's music had a lot of personality in a night where he found his sweet spot over and over – honest to goodness country music.
The strong bill (Hailey Whitters opened) included Lainey Wilson. She may be tabbed as a rising star and with good reason. The Louisiana native has the voice, songs and stage presence to warrant that. It's not just having a hit like the closing "Things a Man Oughta Know," which Wilson said was really about treating people right. Wearing very large bellbottoms, Wilson also showed her country bona fides with a cover of Merle Haggard's "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink." And her vocal chops on a cover of Four Non Blondes' "What's Up."
Wilson kept the 45-minute set moving, while also giving the crowd a chance to get to know her through her stage banter. Her musical career continues looking up. With a new disc out in October and a role in the upcoming season of "Yellowstone" with Kevin Costner, Wilson has a lot to look forward to. Fortunately, she also knows a thing or two about putting on a solid country show.