Gary Allan isn’t your typical mainstream country musician. Allan’s roots are firmly planted in a classic country soil, and the southern California and Bakersfield influence is apparent in his music and compositions.
Performing to a sold out crowd at The Turning Stone Casino, Allan’s abilities to seamlessly switch gears on stage from an upbeat tempo to ballad is effortless. Backed by one of the most talented bands I’ve seen recently, the setlist showcased their skills perfectly. Between Allan’s ruggedly sexy voice and the band’s ability to lull you in with each tune, you fall in love with this show a little more as each song is performed.
Playing popular hits such as “Song About Rain,” “Airplanes,” “Do You Wish It Was Me,” and “Best I Ever Had,” although comfortable and welcoming, it wasn’t the popular songs that struck a chord in me. It was the classic sound, the Bakersfield rockabilly, and rock-based tunes that made me sit up and take notice of this ensemble. Songs like “Guys Like Me” with a heavy slide guitar, and “Man of Me” that featured piano, fiddle, slide guitar, and heavy percussion and guitar blew me away. While “Half of My Mistake” and “Smoke Rings In the Dark” showcased a definite southern California sound with a little Tex-Mex/Bakersfield sound mixed within.
In a generation of new country sounds, it was refreshing to hear a classic country sound like “Nothing On But the Radio” and “It Would Be You.” His new music on Set You Free truly stands out to me. The honesty of the lyrics, the deliverance of the emotions with songs like “It Ain’t The Whiskey,” and the super sultry sexy “Sand in My Soul” truly draws you in and makes you fall in love with this album.
Further reflecting his classic country sound were covers such as “Her Man,” by Waylon Jennings, and “Fast As You,” a Dwight Yoakum favorite, highlighted the smoldering country and Bakersfield sounds that are slowly making their way back in to mainstream country today.
Allan is true class and classic at the same time. With songs like “Learning How to Bend,” he demonstrates his talent in songwriting and performance. He has a way of drawing you in to his songs where they become your life. That’s a gift. Perhaps it’s because of the honesty in his music. He doesn’t march to the beat of popular tides, he’s true to his roots and to his sound. You feel his music because he feels his music.
The stand out performance of the evening was “Get Off on the Pain.” The honesty in which Allan delivers this song cranks it up to over drive and he leaves it all on stage with that number.
Closing out the show with “Drinking Dark Whiskey,” this Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson number, once again highlighted Allan’s classic country sound and the tide that country music is to turning to today. With a new album on the horizon, it is my prediction we have yet to see the best of Gary Allan. This ever evolving musician has just begun to make his mark on the country music stage.
Setlist: Tough All Over, Radio, Man to Man, Guys Like Me, Do you Wish It Was Me, Smoke Rings, Sand in my Soul, It Ain’t the Whiskey, Half of My Mistakes, Her Man (Waylon Jennings cover)It Would Be you, Get Off on the Pain, Song About Rain, Airplanes, Learning How to Bend, Life Ain’t Always Beatuitful, Best I Ever Had, Man of Me, Right Where I Need to Be.
Encore: Every Storm, Fast As You (Dwight Yokam cover), Drinking Dark Whiskey (Chris Stapleton/Mike Henderson cover)