Country music superstar Brad Paisley’s visit to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday was more of a mini-festival than the classic opener-and-headliner concert presentation.
In fact, there were five – count ’em, five – opening acts before the multiple Best Male Vocalist award winner (from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music) took the stage in a explosive spectacle of lights, smoke and passionate, rock-tinged country songs.
Former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker (now a bonafide country star in his own right) and singer-songwriter Justin Moore (whose hit single, “How I Got To Be This Way” is all over country radio coast to coast) warmed up the crowd for Paisley in SPAC’s main amphitheater.
But earlier in the day, the Water World Plaza Stage out on the lawn also played host to a handful of up-and-coming country performers. First up was Josh Thompson who wrapped up his impassioned set with his current chart-climber, “Way Out Here,” with its catchy refrain, “We’re into John Wayne, Johnny Cash and John Deere, way out here.”
Following Thompson, a charged-up and good-to-go Easton Corbin delivered an energetic set, during which a pair of cute fans jumped on stage to kick up their heels and dance with the country hunk.
The closers on the satellite stage that hot and humid afternoon were the sparkling vocal duo of Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott, better known as “Can You Duet” winners Steel Magnolia. The twosome is already slated to return to town on Wednesday, October 6 to headline their own show at Northern Lights in Clifton Park.
There was a little something for every fan during Paisley’s blistering high-energy set that closed the day-long festivities. Appropriately enough, he opened his show with “Water” as a steady rain soaked the fans out on the lawn.
A master guitarist, Paisley let plenty of hot licks fly as he and his band, the Drama Kings, ripped through hit-after-hit, including “I’m Still a Guy,” “Celebrity” and “American Saturday Night.” He played a short acoustic mini-set on a small platform stage at the back of the amphitheater. And he even brought Rucker back out onstage to join him for a encore romp through “Alcohol” to wrap up the exhausting but exhilerating day at SPAC.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Mike Lisi’s review in The Times Union