Music & Nightlife

Concert review: Brad Paisley wows again at PNC Music Pavilion

Brad Paisley in concert May 16at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh.
Brad Paisley in concert May 16at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh. ssharpe@newsobserver.com

Despite threats of rain, PNC Music Pavilion’s first show of 2015 – headlined by country-music star Brad Paisley – was greeted with hot but beautiful weather on Sunday night.

Things got off to a great start: The Swon Brothers and Justin Moore, Paisley’s opening acts, both gave the crowd a good 30 minutes each, and fans went wild for Moore’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” lighting up the entire stadium with cellphones.

And I knew this was going to be a concert to remember when Moore tipped his hat to the crowd and Brad Paisley’s crew started to assemble a bar, complete with stools, on stage. (This bar would stay in service for the entire show.)

Paisley performed for almost two hours, accompanied by eye-catching visuals on the giant video screens, a big-headed mascot version of the country star and a squirrel on a jet ski. (Just another day at a country music concert.)

Even though almost all of his songs were well-known hits from older albums, Paisley impressed with his ability to stay relevant. He mocked some recent viral celebrity moments in “Celebrity,” as his mascot swung from the ceiling on a wrecking ball and broke the Internet with a bottle of champagne; he played a video of Carrie Underwood belting out her half of “Remind Me,” telling the crowd he just needed to FaceTime someone really quick.

Well-known hits like those were welcomed with open (and somewhat drunk) arms, but the people around me didn’t stop singing even when Paisley sang something from his newest album, “Moonshine in the Trunk” – including “Perfect Storm,” “River Bank,” “Crushin’ It” and the album’s title track.

You can tell that Paisley is energized by a crowd that knows his music and loves hearing it. He didn’t debut a single new song and even covered James Taylor’s classic “Carolina in my Mind,” bringing a tear to the recent UNC-Chapel Hill graduate I brought with me.

When he belted out his ever-popular “Alcohol” – and the fans around me polished off their cans – I looked down at my phone and was shocked to see the hours had gone by that fast.

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