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Swindell shows off his bona fides

Leader Bank Pavilion, Boston, May 30, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

If there was ever any doubt about Cole Swindell's bona fides as a songwriter and performer, check out two songs he played before a packed house – "Forever To Me" and "You Should Be Here."

Both are part of lifecycle events, and if you weren't left with a lump in your throat – in one case joy, in the other sadness – from hearing them, that says something about you.

The former, released just last month from an upcoming CD, was Swindell's special song to his fiancé as the 40-year-old singer is going to tie the knot soon. Swindell's reading was personal and heartfelt with lines like,
"She gave a "yes" to the dress with her mama
That's gonna be somethin' to see
She gave her heart to Jesus
And He gave her to me
I wish you coulda met my daddy
Know how happy he would be
That I gave her a diamond and she gave forever to me"

And then there was "You Should Be Here." The song was written about his late father, who passed away suddenly just after Swindell signed a record deal. Sitting down on a stool next to his keyboardist, Swindell seemed genuinely personally very very moved by the emotion of the words and the loss.

Swindell talked with the crowd for a stretch about loss and then asked the crowd to sing a coda to the song. Personal, but real.

Music and concerts don't get much better than that.

Of course, there was more than that to Swindell's nearly 90-minute show. He kicked off the night with "Flatliner," an upbeat, fast-paced number.

There's a lot of drinking and loss about love throughout Swindell's catalogue with songs like "Middle of a Memory" and "Ain't Worth the Whiskey." There was also a sense of what could have been with "Break Up in the End."

Maybe there's a lot of regret for Swindell, but he delivered the heartache (the combustibility of "Never Say Never," his hit with the omnipresent Lainey Wilson, who appeared on video) as well as the more fun songs ("Sad Ass Country Song" and the rollicking "Drinkaby," a most excellent tears-in-my-beer song not written by Swindell, with great, colorful graphics to boot).

Swindell benefitted from sharp visuals in the lighting effects throughout.

Swindell, unfortunately, was into singing snippets of songs, doing so twice during the show. He has enjoyed considerable success as a songwriter and performed parts of "Roller Coaster" (A hit for Luke Bryan), "Get Me Some of That" (Thomas Rhett) and "This is How We Roll" (Florida Georgia Line) as a medley.

Later, near the end of the night, Swindell paid home to '90s country with "Neon Moon," "Carrying You Love With Me," "Pickup Man," "Should've Been a Cowboy," "Be My Baby Tonight" and 'Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)."

It's not that Swindell wasn't capable of pulling them off. In both cases, it was a case of if the song was good enough, why not simply sing the whole song instead of teasing with just a flash of each? Just when Swindell was in a good stretch in snippet x, it was onto the next one.

Swindell was not a big, over the top personality up on the stage. He's certainly a more than competent singer with a lot of really good songs. With enough variety and real deal quality, the bona fides were ever present.

Dylan Scott preceded with a hit-laden, genial hour-long set. With a thick drawl and soulful delivery, Scott was easy on the ears with radio ready fare like the opening "Livin' My Best Life," "Hooked," "New Truck" and "Nobody."

Like Swindell, Scott also was quite happy about being in love – he's married to his high school sweetheart with three kids – and was more than happy to sing about his wife, Blair, and feature the couple on the backing screen from their wedding.

Scott may not cut very deep a lot of the time, but he could get pensive as well ("Good Times Go By Too Fast" and "This Town's Been Too Good to Us").

Scott also was an affable sort, as usual. He took the time to engage with "Dave" in the crowd, who apparently had way too much to drink with Scott engaging in light-hearted banter.

Yet another solid stint from Scott.

Mackenzie Carpenter, a fellow Georgian like Swindell, packed eight songs into her fast moving half hour to start the night. Carpenter made break ups sound pretty darn good with "Sound of a Heart Break" setting the table.

She had a good turn with "Country Girls (Just Wanna Have Fun)," incorporating Cyndi Lauper's megahit for a fun reading. Not everything was as enticing in Carpenter's set, but based on this night anyway, Carpenter bears watching.

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