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The roll continues for Shelton, deservedly so

DCU Center, Worcester, February 23, 2012

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Blake Shelton had it just about right with the lyrics by the second song of his headlining gig, It's All About Tonight. The affable Oklahoman sang,

"It's all about tonight
Good times and the music and laughing and grooving to the band
Everybody's getting right
No worries we're rocking all kinds of concoctions in our hands
Yeah tomorrow can wait 'til tomorrow
It's all about tonight"

After smartly starting with the title track to the redone "Footloose" movie, Shelton set what would be the right tone for the rest of the 100-minute workout.

Yup, Shelton is about good music, good times and fun, and he served that up in large doses. Shelton shot right out of the box with fast-paced, catchy well-done songs. But he deserves a lot of credit for offering a variety of sounds and styles during the night.

Shelton soon slowed it down with his fine version of the Michael Buble song Home, but quickly picked up the pace with his Jimmy Buffett-styled, fun sounding, Some Beach before launching into the tough sounding Kiss My Country Ass.

The ballads were there, of course, including his recent hit Who Are You When I'm Not Looking. Shelton knows a thing or two about going softer. Perhaps the best part of the set was when he performed his very first single (and number one hit) Austin and Nobody But Me solo acoustic on a walkway. It exposed his voice to great effect. To much credit, Shelton infused the songs with a tremendous amount of emotion and ownership whether solo or with his strong backing band.

Shelton occasionally engaged in long patter between songs, but the yapping wore well. For example, he said people may have been aware of him through being on The Voice, drawing big applause, of course. He then told about going out to La La land for a meeting, being the first of the judges there , of course, because he's a country singer. The spiel about the various judges (Christina Aguilera walked in and "her boobs came through the door two minutes later," Shelton said) went on awhile.

The end result, though, was Shelton launching into a full-blown version of Cee-Lo Green's Forget You. He did it seriously with his backing band smartly kicking in. Perhaps Shelton does the same shtick nightly (actually if you check out his Toledo, Ohio show, which kicked off the tour, it may be a nightly occurrence), but he makes it feel and sound fresh.

Shelton, of course, is known for being humorous, a bit bawdy and saying what is on his mind. He did all of that on this evening, further connecting to the crowd beyond the music.

He also made the concert come full circle by singing a duet with opener Dia Frampton, who was his candidate on The Voice on I Will. After a slight stumble at the outset by Frampton, the pair worked well together. Even better was the opening song of the encore, a cover of Travis Tritt's The Whiskey Ain't Workin' Anymore with middle act Justin Moore taking the Marty Stuart lines. It was an excellent choice for the pair to work together, a song that made sense for both.

About the only complaint was that Shelton did not play more than the three songs from his strong new disc "Red River Blue" - Honey Bee, God Gave Me You and Drink On It. Shelton certainly showed enough staying power on stage that a longer set would have held up.

Shelton has been on a role for a few years, and this evening proved that it has been most deserving.

Moore offered a strong 50-minute stint, setting the stage for the headliner. Diminutive though he may be, Moore displayed a strong voice and confidence on stage.

It also helps that he has a bunch of hits to play - Small Town USA and If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away, both reaching number one. While he could rock (as could Shelton), Hank Jr. and Travis Tritt proved more appropriate reference points for Moore - keeping him on this side of country.

Moore and Shelton also shared something else in common - songs about ass with similar ideas - I Could Kick Your Ass and Kiss My Country Ass.

No wonder it made good sense to have Moore be on the tour.

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