With Alan Jackson, no tricks, but it adds up
Los Angeles, Greek Theatre, July 29, 2001
By Dan E. MacIntosh
LOS ANGELES - Alan Jackson concerts rely heavily upon jumbo screen video images, primarily because Mr. Jackson doesn't move around a whole lot on stage. But this traditional country singer's true calling card is his subtly amazing singing voice, which could not be obscured this night - even by all the visual overload of his stage presentation.
By sometimes borrowing directly from his music videos, audiences got the opportunity to cheer on Jackson as he water skied, drove a monster truck and generally looked silly. But because he doesn't exert a whole lot of body language, it's easy to take Jackson's singing abilities for granted.
He may not have the vocal range of his heroes - like Haggard and Jones - but he brought out the humor in "Summertime Blues" and "I Don't Even Know Your Name," as well as expressing the simple joys of "Livin' On Love" and "Chattahoochee." He also layered "Little Man" with thoughtful warmth.
This 90-minute set wasn't all that different from his contribution to the recent George Strait Country Music Festival, only longer, and was comprised of almost all hits. But he didn't miss a one, from the opener "Gone Country," to "Don't Rock The Jukebox."
Much like a basketball player who doesn't make a lot of tricky shots, but ends up with a high number of points at games end, Jackson makes being a scoring champion look easy.
Another Allan, Gary Allan, opened the show with a 45-minute set of mostly hits, a few covers and two new songs. Allan reminded the crowd several times of his Southern California roots and even noted that his mother was in attendance.
Speaking of dear old mom, Allan commented that she doesn't much like the title cut of his upcoming album, "Alright Guy." Written by Todd Snider, this tune - which alludes to drug use and applies borderline bad language - is a little on the edgy side for Allan, and it's not surprising how it doesn't receive mom's seal of approval.
Older recordings, like "Her Man" and "Send Back My Heart," and cuts from the recent "Smoke Rings in the Dark" were much more comfortable musical and lyrical fits for Allan.