Music & Nightlife

Tim McGraw brings the hot, sweaty classics to PNC

By Paige Ladisic, pladisic@charlotteobserver.com

Tim McGraw performs with Bill Currington and Chase Bryant on the Shotgun Rider Tour at PNC Music Pavilion on July 11, 2015.
Tim McGraw performs with Bill Currington and Chase Bryant on the Shotgun Rider Tour at PNC Music Pavilion on July 11, 2015. ddeaton@charlotteobserver.com

Twenty-five years of country music later, Tim McGraw hasn't aged a bit — but his fans have, and we were feeling the heat.

At PNC Music Pavilion on Saturday, I was surrounded by women in awe of McGraw's perfect abs and men who sang to their beer cans (because the women they came with were a little distracted) and all of them were at least twice my age.

And I wasn't upset about that, because no one was dumping beer on me and we all seemed to be on the same page with our curiosity — how is McGraw still going so hard?

The man is 47, which isn't old by any means. But 25 years of singing, performing, jumping and dancing, especially in the sweltering heat? You'd expect him to slow down a little.

We slowed down, anyway. The heat kept everyone subdued. Because it was hot. I won't give a weather forecast, because I can sum up how it felt last night in one word: Hot.

When opening acts Chase Bryant and Billy Currington hit the stage, I was holding a cold water bottle to my head and counting down until sunset. I did wake up when Currington decided to shock everyone and take on "Uptown Funk," the No. 1 song I never expected to hear at a country music concert.

All I wanted was some relief from the heat, and finally, the sun was down and it was time for some Tim. But as soon as McGraw walked on, he was accompanied by the most blinding lights I've ever seen, and I felt like I was dancing in a sauna.

A couple in front of me sat down every few songs, fanning themselves with their tickets and singing as enthusiastically as they could from their seats. Four little girls in a family behind us were pooped by the second or third song. One woman gave up for good after McGraw's cover of "Tiny Dancer" and left her husband singing and dancing alone.

But if the camera didn't zoom in on McGraw's soaking wet T-shirt and face every once in a while, you'd have no idea the guy was breaking a sweat out there.

He didn't stop. He went from 1999's "Something Like That" to his latest hit "Shotgun Rider" to 2004's "Live Like You Were Dying" without a break. The man was running from one end of the stage to the other and jumping through decades so often that I had to sit down — he might not have been tired, but I was getting there.

When I go to a country concert, I assume that I'll know almost every song the artist has produced (in my lifetime, anyway.) So I'll wait and listen for a song I don't recognize, usually a good time to take a break from standing. It didn't come with McGraw for me or for anyone around me, and I was OK with that. But for anyone hoping to hear some new music or grab another beer, well, his latest album came out a year ago.

Shoutout to the only teenage girl I saw in the vicinity, standing behind me with her boyfriend. She knew the words to every single song McGraw played (even the ones that were definitely older than her) and didn't need to take a break from the heat or the lights for a second. You are a far stronger woman than I.

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