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HARDY provides undeniably good time

House of Blues , Anaheim, Cal., March 10, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

HARDY as headliner, wasn't a whole lot different from HARDY the opening act (for Jason Aldean and Morgan Wallen), only there was more of him. Dressed in a florescent orange cap, a t-shirt and shorts, HARDY constantly bounced around the stage while singing both old and new songs. The lights were better, there were smoke machines, and he had his own professional video backdrops. If you like this rock guy that does country (or see him as a country guy that does rock), this night provided one healthy portion of HARDY.

HARDY opened with the shout-along "Sold Out," which kicked off a 20-plus song set that kept the energy (and often the volume) up high throughout. HARDY is much more country lifestyle than country sound, but because he's such a talented songwriter, we give him much grace. He sings plenty of songs about alcohol and trucks, with his best drinking song sung directly to Jack Daniels, "Jack." "Boots," incorporates country attire with an especially drunken night before. HARDY is unapologetically a country redneck, and he's likely rednecker than you.

HARDY didn't say much between songs and even performed his hit "Wait in the Truck" (which featured a video of Lainey Wilson singing along) without introduction. He sang "Signed, Sober You" with just his own acoustic guitar, which was about as country as this evening's setlist sounded. One of HARDY's live partners, though, was Jameson Rodgers (an opener), who helped sing "Red."

Rodgers preceded Hardy with a mostly pleasing set, which included solo recordings ("Holding Me Back," "Missing One") and most notably, "Cold Beer Calling My Name," which features Luke Combs on its recorded version. The only sour note in Rodgers' set was the selection of cover songs that backloaded the end of it. We really didn't need to hear "Summer of '69" again, even as a cover song.

The way this packed audience loudly chanted HARDY's name as he took the stage suggested this may be one of the last times we get to see the talented singer/songwriter in a club. It's only a matter of time before we see his name on marquees of larger venues. HARDY 's recent opening stint for Wallen, though, proved how his music goes over just as well in front of big crowds. It may have been one of the last shows of its kind, but tonight was undeniably a good time with HARDY.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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