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Alan Jackson leads caravan tour to DC, but lacks "High Mileage"

MCI Center, Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 1999

By Michael Sudhalter

WASHINGTON - Alan Jackson's "High Mileage" tour wasn't exactly that Saturday as the singer opted to sing a mere two songs from his latest album, but the 1950's road show atmosphere was a perfect complement to his traditionalist style.

Jackson, touring with a bunch of up-and--comers as opening acts, started the 90-minute set off on the right foot with the lyrically-cynical yet crowd pleasing "Gone Country." "Here in the Real World," the song that put Jackson on the map, showcased his ability to sing a classic, hurtin' country song.

Unlike many of his peers, Jackson's most recent Number One song remains as "stone country" as his first number one record. The playfully, worded "Right on The Money" was complete with Mark McClurg's fiddle and Jackson's mouth-popping sound effects.

"Don't Rock the Jukebox," Jackson's rollicking tribute to George Jones was followed by the tender ballad "Song for the Life," demonstrating Jackson's ability to mixing it up between ballads and fast-paced songs.

The only exception was the ever-popular "half-wired set," where Jackson left something to be desired this time around. Instead of debuting snippets from "High Mileage" or using the '50's Opry atmosphere as a platform to cover clips from Jones or Hank Sr., Jackson sang one verse of several indistuinguishable ballads from his first two albums.

Not to worry however, Jackson got back in first gear with "Summertime Blues," "Between the Devil and Me" and "There Goes." After Jackson sang the ballad "Everything I Love," one almost wonders if Jackson was using the concert to promote his 1996 album "Everything I Love" since he sang nearly every song off of it.

Jackson then showcased his venture into new, creative territory with the ballad "I'll Go On Loving You." The highlights of "I Don't Even Know Your Name' were definitly the instrumental efforts his backing band, The Strayhorns.

After the "Everything I Love" theme continued with "Little Bitty" and "Who's Cheatin Who," Jackson sang his emotional tribute to Hank Williams, "Midnight in Montgomery," on the steam-filled stage.

The impressive encore consisted of Jackson's mega-hit "Chatahoochee" and "Mercury Blues." It was also highlighted by Tony Stephens on his harmonica during "Chatahoochee."

Jackson, once again proved his ability as an entertainer. Yet there is more "High Mileage" to be travelled.

Each opening act sang four songs as a result of the "travelling show" format. With the exception of Sara Evans, the rest of these acts fit into the look-a-like, soundalike, flavor-of-the-month hot new country artist category.

Evans who sang "The Great Unknown" appeared to be the only opening act on the bill who fit into the 1950's road show atmosphere. When Evans sang "Fool, I'm a Woman" and her current hit "No Place That Far," she proved that she is a solid artist whether she sings non-compromise hard country or country with a slight pop element.

Clint Daniels, a Florida native and James Bonamy look-alike, showed some upside with the country-swing tune "Swing Through Dallas." It is hard to take Daniels seriously as a country artist, however, with songs like his latest single "I Wanna Be A Little Kid."

Andy Griggs, whose single is "I'll Go Silently," has a country -rock sound that closely resembles Travis Tritt. "Waitin on Sundown" and "Ain't Livin Long Like This" especailly showcase that quality.

Chad Brock, a Florida native, has a style similar to Joe Diffie. Brock, like Diffie, entices the crowds with fun, sometimes silly songs like "Evangeline" yet has the ability to sing a quality ballad like "Ordinary Life," his current single. This formula won't lead to stardom for Brock, but it may help him gain a fan base.

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