The South Florida humidity was out in full force on Saturday night, but that was no problem for Rascal Flatts, whose fans were out in full force as well.
Kicking off the West Palm Beach stop of the country band’s Riot Tour was RaeLynn. The former “Voice” contestant performed a short but sweet set culminating with her hit song “God Made Girls.” After her set, RaeLynn made her way to the merchandise table where she took pictures and signed autographs for fans.
After a short break, Scotty McCreery took the stage. The season 10 winner of “American Idol” is known for his low-vocal crooning and did not disappoint. His performance energy was enough to remind you why he won the show.
McCReery has an obvious appreciation for the songs that made country music what it is today. About halfway through his set, the 21-year-old performed what he calls the “Oldies Medley,” consisting of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Alabama’s “Mountain Music.” Unfortunately, when McCreery was performing his final song, “Feelin’ It,” the audio on his microphone and on a couple of his band members’ instruments cut out. After realizing what had happened, McCreery just shrugged it off and high-fived some fans in the front before taking his bow.
Shortly after 9 p.m., Rascal Flatts took the stage. The band, which released its first album 15 years ago, showed that it’s still a major draw in country music. The band kicked off the show with two high-energy songs, “Stand” and “Me and My Gang,” and retained that level of excitement throughout the night.
Lead singer Gary LeVox, who celebrated his 45th birthday the night before, proved capable of hitting the same high notes as he did when the band started, in 1997. LeVox enjoyed playing around with the fans and caught two roses thrown onstage to him. Taking double duty on guitar and piano, Jay DeMarcus visibly enjoyed himself onstage. DeMarcus commented on the weather by saying that he is glad he gave his soul to Jesus, because the heat and humidity was a taste of Hell.
The youngest member of the band, Joe Don Rooney, is a master on the guitar. While Rooney performed many guitar duets with DeMarcus, he had his time to shine on “Life Is A Highway,” which is always a crowd favorite, despite being a Tom Cochrane cover for Pixar’s “Cars” soundtrack. While LeVox did perform the lead vocals for the majority of the show, both Rooney and DeMarcus performed solos in several songs. Perhaps most impressive was Rooney’s rock take on the chorus of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.”
However, if you think you are going to see Rascal Flatts just for these three men, you are mistaken. I was thoroughly impressed by the trio of female backup singers who brought a soulful vibe to each of their songs. Two of the women shined during duets with LeVox on “Easy” and “She’s Leaving.” It made me wonder how they do not have record deals of their own.
Rascal Flatts’ harmonica and banjo players also gave the show a true country feel. The harmonica stood out during “Love You Out Loud” and “Mayberry,” while the banjo fittingly had its time to shine during “Banjo.”
While the band rocked out throughout the show, the ballads slowed down the show in just the right way. Cell phone lights illuminated the crowdscape for both “My Wish” and “Bless the Broken Road,” while the former also featured a chandelier lowered from the rafters.
Rascal Flatts’ “Riot Tour” proved that even established headliners can improve with age. The band sounds better now than ever, and I have no doubt they will continue to headline for years to come.
Scotty McCreery Set List:
Water Tower Town
The Trouble With Girls
Can You Feel It?
- Mama Tried (Merle Haggard Cover)
- Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash Cover)
- Mountain Music (Alabama)
See You Tonight
Rascal Flatts Set List:
Me And My Gang
Take Me To Church (Hozier Cover)
What Hurts The Most/To Love Somebody (Bee Gees Cover)
Love You Out Loud
Fast Cars and Freedom
Here Comes Goodbye
I’m Movin’ On
Prayin’ for Daylight
Take Me There
Bless The Broken Road
Here’s To You
Life Is A Highway (Tom Cochrane Cover)