“Y’all made it!”
About 12,500 diehard country fans braved frigid temperatures and icy streets Friday to catch the second date of Blake Shelton’s Friends and Heroes Tour.
So Shelton exclaimed his appreciation at the end of the opening number of his Sprint Center concert.
“I said, ‘Well, maybe half of ‘em will show up, the weather is so bad,’” the country star admitted.
The enthusiasm of the raucous audience compensated for the smattering of empty seats. Shelton and his notable guests rewarded fearless fans with more than two and half hours of music.
At 42, the Oklahoman is less a country musician than a multifaceted media star. The television special about Elvis Presley that Shelton is hosting on Sunday, Feb. 17, is one of many of his high-profile ventures.
He’s also a tabloid celebrity, having divorced country luminary Miranda Lambert in 2015. He then started dating pop star Gwen Stefani, who was a judge with him on NBC’s “The Voice.”
At Sprint Center, Shelton shared the stage with less prominent but no less artistically noteworthy musicians. In addition to singing a duet with the opening act Lauren Alaina (an “American Idol” runner-up) on the steamy “Lonely Tonight,” Shelton offered showcases to Trace Adkins, John Anderson and the Bellamy Brothers.
Shelton repeatedly insisted that he was outclassed by his guests. The ovations that greeted each selection of the men Shelton dubbed “superheroes” that he “wanted to sound like and be like” at the advent of his career confirmed his assessment.
The hyper-masculine bawdiness Adkins exhibited on “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is echoed on Shelton’s rap-based “Boys ‘Round Here,” a novelty song with a goofy chorus of “chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit.”
The Southern soulfulness of Anderson’s “Straight Tequila Night” inspired Shelton’s hits about barroom hookups, sultry bedroom encounters and the ensuing heartbreaks and hangovers.
“Let Your Love Flow,” the Bellamy Brothers’ 1976 crossover hit, serves as a template for Blake’s successful forays into the pop realm.
The guests’ renditions of their biggest hits on the main stage and in a seated acoustic-oriented set at the end of a long runway obliged Shelton to marvel that he has yet to create a single song that’s equally durable. Yet Shelton’s outstanding seven-piece band transformed even his blandest hits into hearty honkytonk fare.
The syrupy “Honey Bee” sounded as if it had endured a grueling boot camp and come out leaner, tougher and louder. The members of Friday’s audience were equally resilient.
Shelton pledged that he’d “never forget” the determination of fans who made the treacherous trek to Friday’s concert. The presence of Shelton’s auspicious friends and heroes made their efforts worthwhile.
Set list: Neon Light; All About Tonight; She Wouldn’t Be Gone; Doin’ What She Likes; Sure Be Cool If You Did; Kiss My Country Ass; Mine Would Be You; Lonely Tonight (with Lauren Alaina); Honey Bee; Came Here to Forget; A Guy With a Girl; Seminole Wind (John Anderson); Money In the Bank (John Anderson); Swingin’ (John Anderson); Gonna; My Eyes; She’s Got a Way With Words; Sangria; I’ll Name the Dogs; Let Your Love Flow (Bellamy Brothers); Do You Love as Good as You Look (Bellamy Brothers); Redneck Girl (Bellamy Brothers); Drink on It; Some Beach; Home; Ol’ Red; I Lived It; Honky Tonk Badonkadonk (Trace Adkins); You’re Gonna Miss This (Trace Adkins); Ladies Love Country Boys (Trace Adkins); Hillbilly Bone (with Trace Adkins); Who Are You When I’m Not Looking; If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me (Bellamy Brothers); Every Light in the House (Trace Adkins); Straight Tequila Night (John Anderson); Austin; Boys ‘Round Here; God Gave Me You