Review by Greg Haymes
Photos by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.
So where do you find the next generation of up-and-coming country singers? Singing their hearts out for tips in some dingy Nashville roadhouse? No, no, no. Just turn on your television…
Lauren Alaina was the runner-up on the 2011 season of “American Idol,” losing the gold medal and bragging rights to another country singer Scotty McCreery (who will be at SPAC later this month opening for Brad Paisley).
Meanwhile, Canaan Smith rose to a certain level of national name recognition as a contestant on the 2009 season of “The Amazing Race.”
And Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland is currently one of the celebrity judge-singers on the new ABC-TV singing competition, “Duets.”
Last Thursday at the Times Union Center in Albany, I missed Canaan Smith’s opening set due to a ticket snafu at the box office, but Lauren Alaina acquitted herself well with an eight-song set that showcased tunes from her debut album, “Wildflower,” including “Tupelo” (with a nifty a cappella intro), “Like My Mother Does” (a power ballad with the requisite desperate key change), the flirty “Georgia Peaches” and her new single “18 Inches” (penned by another “American Idol” alum, Carrie Underwood). The 17-year-old Alaina also offered a beefy rock cover of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” and a swamp-soaked rendition of Little Big Town’s “Boondocks.”
Of course, Sugarland didn’t invent the contemporary country-pop genre, but judging by their performance, they may very well have perfected it. I have rarely, if ever, seen a band so successfully deliver a big hockey arena concert with such a loose, intimate club-show vibe.