Brad Paisley at Reliant Stadium, 3/4/2014

Photos by Marco Torres
Brad Paisley
Reliant Stadium
March 4, 2014

When it comes to starting a massive undertaking, you want to start strong and get things off on the right foot. With that in mind, it makes sense that the Rodeo would start its 20 nights of concerts with one of the strongest, most reliable names in country music. After all, Brad Paisley is the guy who has headlined three shows on the Rodeo's Top 20 Paid Attendance Chart.

And while Tuesday night's show may not enter any record books, that doesn't mean that Paisley didn't deliver on a cold Texas night. Yes, if you saw him last year on his "Beat the Summer" tour, most of the night felt familiar, but familiar in a good way, like floating down a river you've been on many times before.

When it comes to playing the Rodeo, Paisley knows what he's doing.

Paisley runs across the dirt floor of the stadium with the greatest of ease, and knows exactly what parts of his songs that the 56,000-plus folks in attendance want to sing with. He knows how to position himself in front of a camera for maximum impact.

And so while it may not be a technically flawless show -- a wrong note here, a cracked voice there -- it's the exact type of show the people who paid good money want to see. They pay to chuckle along with the cute lyrics to "Ticks." They pay to grab their loved one just a little bit tighter during "Then" and it's big power ballad guitar solo. They pay to nod their head along to the lyrics of "This is County Music" because it describes the music they love so well.

If an indie or punk band wrote about indie or punk music the way that Paisley writes about country, we'd flat out say they were fetishizing their genre of choice. Yet when Paisley belts out "This is Country Music" or "Old Alabama" it comes off as perfectly natural; a bit silly if you don't have the emotional investment in the genre perhaps, but sincere and heartfelt.

Review continues on the next page.

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There are some serious escalator nazis there every year. One in particular yells at me to FACE FORWARD so I face him the whole time just because. 

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