Blake Shelton at Reliant Stadium, 3/20/2014
"We wanna get our swerve on; whatever the hell that means, man."
Huh. So it's like that, Shelton.
Thursday night at RodeoHouston, the 37-year-old Oklahoma-born country star and Voice personality took the stage before one very packed house of 75,054 fans, and it sure was something. What, exactly, I'm not sure.
When he kicked off the show with "All About Tonight," a slower, two-steppin' kind of number, it was apparent that something about him sure does draw in those loyal fans. Sometimes it's just hard to figure out why.
He's a character, for sure. It's easy to see why he gets the kind of media attention he does; he can be self-effacing, which does come off as charismatic at times. Right up until he changes the words to "Some Beach," his song about longing for the sandy shores of, well, some beach, into "some biatch" toward the close of his second song.
Shelton has gotten quite good at drawing in those massive crowds, though. When I looked around the stadium, nearly every seat was full. That's an impressive draw considering Jason Aldean, whom I'd consider to have equal status (minus all Shelton's exposure from The Voice), had noticeably more gaps in the rows. Even the press box, which has been somewhat of a ghost town this season, was full of screaming fans. I just don't get it...but they do.
And to be fair, Shelton deserves a little credit for understanding his fans. He had them screaming en masse as he yelled, "I love you, Houston!" repeatedly. It takes a master of the craft to truly "get" his or her audience, and Shelton does seem to grasp that part. Yet there's still something essential missing from his performance.
That became evident during the show's second half, which was heavy-handed with forlorn love songs. As he sang, gripping the mike and spitting out the words, it became apparent that the missing element of his performance was the emotion that turns a sad country song into a heartbroken hymn. Sure, he plays some really sad, sappy tunes -- take "The More I Drink" or "Drink On It," for example -- but where that raw, evident emotion should be, it just isn't. He's there, and he's singing, but he sure ain't hurtin' like those songs are.
Review continues on the next page.