Paisley stepped onstage to a roaring crowd Thursday night, opening with “Beat This Summer,” in front of a massive screen showing an airboat speeding down a river and bikini-clad gals frolicking appropriately.
“Where are we? We’re not even in California, are we,” the singer and guitarist joked with the crowd. “Did somebody say Nevada? Now this ain’t Las Vegas. I would know if I was in Vegas.”
While the early summer booking may have contributed to the visible shortage of cowboy hats at Paisley’s show (compared to his July 2013 appearance on the same stage, that is), the country rocker put on an excellent show for the enthusiastic crowd, keeping guys and gals, young and old, on their feet and dancing late into the warm summer evening.
Paisley’s media-driven performances are about as close as one can get to a full stadium concert experience here in the basin, with massive screens alternating music videos and close-up live shots, numerous extras and stage props, and his token autographed guitar giveaway. This time, he interrupted his beloved song “This is Country Music” to pass off his John Hancocked acoustic guitar to a little girl named Mackenzie, speechlessly perched on her father’s arm in the front row.
While Harvey’s provided ample libation stations, Paisley made sure there were a few extra barstools, including an actual bar with seated patrons onstage for one song. His ever-popular Muppet-headed body double even made an appearance, dancing for delighted fans during “Celebrity,” before being chased offstage by the actual Paisley.
If you were able to turn your eyes from the extravaganza of light and sound onstage at any point, you would have seen a sea of smiles, jeans and cowboy boots, all spinning, dancing and singing along to the stomping country groove.
It wasn’t particularly wet or hot, but it sure felt like a wonderful start to a good old-fashioned American summer.