Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Brad Paisley, Chris Lane concert review: Irvine, Calif.

photo by Will Lester/Daily Bulletin/courtesy SCNG
Brad Paisley is a big baseball enthusiast – especially the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last year, he sang the National Anthem during the World Series and did third baseman Justin Turner’s special season-opening walkup song (“Gatorade”). Then there’s the Paisley mascot, who comes onstage for “Celebrity” wearing a Dodgers jersey.

In Irvine, Calif. on Saturday night, the singer/guitarist – marking the 20th anniversary of his debut album’s release this month - even changed a “Ticks” lyric to “I’d like to see the other half of your Dodgers tattoo” (that elicited a minor booing here in Angels territory).

So, it wasn’t a surprise when Paisley briefly made FivePoint Amphitheatre feel like being at a game for the seventh inning stretch while his version of the Kiss Cam took place alongside “My Miracle.” The recent single, a first time co-write with noted tunesmith Gary Nicholson, is a touching ode for wife Kimberly and sure to be a staple at weddings for decades to come. Multiple couples at the venue smooched each time a camera zoomed in on them.

You can always count on Paisley to inject plenty of humor into a concert. His return to Orange County elicited smiles from the get-go. A clip featuring a snowstorm and Christmas music was projected on the backdrop screen. Then Paisley and the six-piece band performed “Beat This Summer,” the perfect choice to kick off the solid 1 hour, 45-minute set.

Early on, the musicians barely paused between tunes like the twangy “World,” a soaring “Perfect Storm” and feisty, fiddle-laden “Water.” Unlike many country music backing bands these days, they weren’t annoyingly flashy, either - a refreshing change of pace. Instead, the guys left the dazzling displays to their boss man. Watching Paisley solo on his Fender electric guitars (changed often and sometimes mid-song) was fascinating.

“It’s great they have an amphitheatre for us to play again in Irvine,” said Paisley, who performed at Irvine Meadows in 2016 before the venue was demolished. Concertgoers cheered loudly. Then he did “I’m Still a Guy,” the whimsical mid-2000s song about metrosexuality, and was joined by opening acts Chris Lane and Riley Green. What resulted was a bit ragged, but fun. The guys took a break to snap a picture using a fan’s phone, added a silly message and posted it to social media.

“This is Country Music,” with images of old country legends on the Grand Ole Opry stage, was highly effective. Paisley signed his electric guitar and gifted it to a young boy sporting (what else?) a Dodgers cap. Then the song took on a patriotic tone as an American flag image and four Army men and women appeared onstage. Paisley and audience took a moment to salute them and other fellow U.S. military members serving around the world.

Last Friday would have been Prince’s 61st birthday. Paisley paid tribute to the late music legend after “Last Time for Everything” (which namechecks “Purple Rain”) by leading the crowd in a quick chorus snippet of that Eighties hit. Later, he’d also give a nod to 1984 by doing a bit of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” during an instrumental display.

Elsewhere, Paisley’s mostly acoustic-based ballads “Letter to Me” (performed within the crowd), “Whiskey Lullaby” and “She’s Everything” were clear standouts. Lane and Green rejoined Paisley for the usual high-spirited encore of “Alcohol.”

Chris Lane turned in an engaging 40-minute opening set that began with his 2015 R&B-tinged country airplay chart topper “Fix.” The gregarious North Carolina native rocked out and chugged a can of Bud Light during “Broken Windshield View,” walked around with a camera amid the easygoing groove and smooth harmonies of “Fishin’” (co-written by Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line) and invited a middle aged female fan up to sit in a chair while he sang “I Don’t Know About You” to her. Lane’s spirited 1990s country tribute medley featured bits of George Strait, Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn and Garth Brooks songs. But “Take Back Home Girl,” his sultry 2017 hit duet with Tori Kelly, made the most indelible mark.

Rising newcomer Riley Green’s sturdy 20-minute performance was highlighted by the upbeat and catchy recent single “In Love by Now” and rousing top 20 country hit “There Was This Girl.” His wistful unreleased solo acoustic ballad “Grandpas Never Die” also proved particularly memorable.

A version of my review originally ran in The Orange County Register and other SCNG newspapers.

Brad Paisley
With: Chris Lane, Riley Green
When: Saturday, June 8
Where: FivePoint Amphitheatre, Irvine, Calif.

The Mercury Insurance Concert Series at FivePoint has an impressive summer '19 slate including:

Train, Goo Goo Dolls, June 16
Santana, June 20
Hootie & the Blowfish, Barenaked Ladies, June 23
Brit Floyd, June 30
Ian Anderson's Jethro Tull, July 6
MC Hammer, Young MC, Tone Loc, Sir Mix a Lot, Biz Markie, July 13
Cage the Elephant, Beck, Spoon, July 17
Disrupt Festival with The Used, Thrice, Circa Survive, July 20
Shinedown, Badflower, July 21
Rascal Flatts, Morgan Evans, Aug. 1
Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World, Ra Ra Riot, Aug. 3
Elvis Costello, Blondie, Aug. 4
Chris Young, Chris Janson, Aug. 10
Lynyrd Synyrd, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Aug. 23
Korn, Alice in Chains, Underoath, Aug. 30
Nelly, TLC, Flo Rida, Aug. 31
Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Sept. 6
Kidz Bop, Sept. 7
Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Sept. 16
Florida Georgia Line, Dan+Shay, Morgan Wallen, Sept. 28.

To purchase tickets, go to

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