News Column

Luke Bryan burns up the Country Jam stage

July 21, 2014

By Courtney Kueppers, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.



July 21--Fifteen minutes before Luke Bryan took the stage to finish off the third and final day of Country Jam, music played from the main stage to get the crowd ready.

It worked.

The crowd stood up then and never sat down through Bryan's 90-minute show.

Bryan's show was on fire, literally. When the country sensation started his set with "That's My Kind of Night," flames burned on the stage.

With one hit after another, Bryan's set felt like a giant sing-along. There was no need to be a country music fan to appreciate his ability to connect with the crowd -- people weren't afraid to belt out his songs with him.

Bryan slipped several Wisconsin references into his 19-song performance. At one point he told the crowd he was "moving a little slow" because of the cheese curds and beer he had indulged in earlier. "When in Wisconsin, right?" Bryan told a cheering crowd.

But there was nothing slow-moving about Bryan's dance moves. Wearing a gray T-shirt, black baseball hat and tight pants, Bryan rarely stood still, shaking his hips from beginning to end.

Whether Bryan was singing one of his upbeat hits, such as "Rain Is a Good Thing" and "Country Man," or Bryan Adam's classic ballad "Summer of '69," the crowd didn't miss a beat.

Bryan took a seat at the piano to deliver "We Rode in Trucks," in which he replaced "Flint River" with "Chippewa River," claiming to have fished on the Chippewa earlier in the day.

Teenage girls in homemade T-shirts, college couples and middle-aged attendees alike swooned over Bryan's songs and dance.

When Bryan finished the set with "I Don't Want This Night to End," in which he sprinkled the chorus from Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," the crowd chanted for an encore. Bryan came back on stage with just as much, if not more, energy as he had at the beginning of the night.

He finished the night with "Play it Again" and an extended version of "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)." The last song featured snippets from other popular songs, such as Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy."

Bryan clearly wanted to be on stage, and his energy was contagious. His high-voltage performance was the perfect way to end the weekend.

Highs and lows

Chris Young's Country Jam performance started out strong when he opened with the title track from his latest album "A.M."

Fans were on their feet, clapping and singing along from the start. Young followed the opener with two of his biggest songs: "Gettin' You Home" and "Voices." He continued to belt out his hits at the beginning of the set, but then there was a lull when he slowed things down and played songs the crowd seemed less familiar with. He later bounced back with another string of hits, starting with "You."

Unlike Bryan, Young didn't do much dancing or moving around the stage. One of the most impressive parts of the show was a drum solo late in the set.

The crowd was obviously there for Luke Bryan, and Young didn't seem very enthused to be on stage. He didn't spend much time talking with the crowd, and his set ended abruptly. It left me thinking, "Is that it?"

The show ended just as it was getting good. Young finally seemed to be having fun on stage when he belted out "Tomorrow" and wrapped things up with "Save Water, Drink Beer." His final song seemed to be the crowd's favorite, so his up-and-down set ended on a high note.

Kueppers can be reached at 715-833-9203, 800-236-7077 or courtney.kueppers@ecpc.com.

___

(c)2014 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

Visit the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) at www.leadertelegram.com

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Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)


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