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Shelton drinks and sings as promised

First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, Pa., August 2, 2013

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Even though Pittsburgh has more than its fair share of country music fans, the city has called for banning Kenny Chesney due to the "crowd element and excessive drinking." Blake Shelton may have painted a bull's eye onto his back Friday night when he boldly announced, "I came here for two reasons: to drink and to sing country music. Now let's get to work." With a beer always by his side, he did more than his fair share of both in the following two hours.

The 6'4" giant descended in a silver tube and opened with a scorching All About Tonight. The 20-song set featured only three new songs from his latest, "Based on A True Story."

The greatest hits material showcased just how closely how his sound is as close to rock as it is country. Over is a hard driving power ballad. Kiss My Country Ass is a straight on face melter, which was preceded by a rant denouncing the industry's censorship of his lewd material.

Unfortunately, he spent far too much time interacting with the crowd. Shelton's appeal is his natural charisma and the honesty with which he presents himself. Even though he was gracious and genuinely appreciative of the fans, he ate up a good bit of time at the pulpit.

While the new material was sparse, the highlight was the new single, Mine Would Be You. It begins with an immediately recognizable intro that sounds like The Eagles' Best Of My Love. The show was not without humor. Shelton told of his recent friendship with Usher, fellow judge on NBC's "The Voice." He attempted to pay homage by singing Usher's megahit Crazy. The funk lasted about a minute before Shelton stopped and said, "I am country singer. I am a hillbilly. What more do you want from me?" He then launched into the more appropriate and far less danceable, Hillbilly Bone.

The shenanigans continued when he paused after Playboys of the Southwestern World, to don a cowboy hat with a mullet underneath. The show's emotional moment came on Over You, co-written with Miranda Lambert about Shelton's brother, who died in a car accident.

After Shelton won his first CMA for Best Male Vocalist in 2012; he finally began to think he was one of the artists that would influence the direction of country music. Judging from the fact that there wasn't a blade of grass available to sit on the lawn, let alone in the Pavilion, the fans seem to agree.

Jana Kramer made the most of the opening time slot, performing Why You Wanna and I Hope It Rains.

Easton Corbin came on next and the Pavilion began to fill as Lot To Learn About Livinfilled the air. His capable band showcased the Telecaster, pedal steel and fiddle on hits Roll With It and Where I Come From.

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