Blake Shelton is a celebrity.
By TIMOTHY FINN
The Kansas City Star
By trade, hes a country music singer. His discography goes back to 2001 the year he released his eponymous debut album, which included Austin, his first of 13 No. 1 country hits. He has released seven studio albums. Four have gone gold, one has gone platinum.
But Sheltons big break came in 2011, when he was enrolled as a judge on the reality-TV talent show The Voice, a stage he shares with Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Cee-Lo. Before that, none of his five albums hit No. 1 on the country charts.
Since then, both of his albums have, including his most recent, Red River Blue. In addition to all that, he is married to another country star, Miranda Lambert, who has won a small multitude of country-music awards.
Thursday night, Shelton headlined a show at the Sprint Center and he came close to filling the place, which seemed to surprise even him.
The 14,000-plus in the arena gave him a loud and steady reception throughout a show that lasted two hours and hit a fever pitch several times, the kind reserved for top-tier country stars, like George Strait or Taylor Swift, whom Shelton name-checked once, tongue-in-cheek.
He also name-checked Food Channel personality Guy Fieri, who was in town filming an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and dropped in backstage.
Shelton is a steady singer who picks and strums a guitar; he has a few songwriting credits on his seven albums, but he mostly leaves those duties to others.
Hes a native Oklahoman and has the drawl to prove it, and he flashes a garrulous personality on stage. He plays the country-life card a lot, most unabashedly in the songs like Kiss My Country Ass (Tearin down a dirt road / Rebel flag flyin, coon dog in the back) and Boys Round Here (Well, the boys round here dont listen to the Beatles / They run ol Bocephus through a jukebox needle).
He delivers the love songs, too, and songs about heartache (She Wouldnt Be Gone). He also has his tropical beer-drinkin tune, Some Beach, during which he wore a cowboy hat fitted with a wig that gave him fake shoulder-length locks.
Towards the end of his set, he brought out Danielle Bradbery, 17, his Voice protege and the shows most recent winner, who sang her new single, a generic modern-country song called The Heart of Dixie. Not long after that, Shelton took a seat upstage for a two-song acoustic set that included Over You, a song he co-wrote with Lambert, who won the coin flip to record it. He also dropped in two covers: of Michael Bubles Home and then Kenny Loggins Footloose, an encore, which stoked a rowdy sing-along.
Throughout the night, Shelton thanked the crowd and expressed some sincere gratitude and what felt like genuine surprise over the size of the crowd.
He recalled playing to much small crowds in much smaller venues in Kansas City, like the Beaumont Club, years ago. But those were the days before his celebrity marriage and his role in a popular TV show.
Round here, like everywhere else, fame sells tickets.