This past Thursday I left work a little early to make the trip over to Spokane for Blake Shelton’s “Well Lit and Amplified” tour. The trip pretty much came together just a week prior when I realized he was playing in Spokane. After checking ticket availability on Stubhub I decided to pull the trigger and bought a couple of “slightly” inflated second row seats.
I don’t think I had ever felt so pumped up for a concert before. Still nursing a nice high from the previous night when our basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament and really feeling in the mood after listening to Blake the whole drive over, I could not wait to walk through the doors of the Spokane Arena. After some great food at P.F. Changs and a few drinks, my friend Emily and myself drove across the Monroe Street bridge and entered the venue.
Emily and I made it to our seats, second row as advertised, just as the show started. Blake’s opening act was Dia Frampton. If you are like me, you are probably asking yourself “WHO?” right about now. If you are not a fan of “The Voice,” there is little chance you would know who she is. Dia rose to stardom on the first season of the show and of course she was coached by Blake Shelton. This by default earned her a spot on his tour.
I don’t want to hate on Dia Frampton too much. The fact of the matter is, when you are the first opening act for any type of show, you already have the cards stacked against you. Most of the time you are playing to probably about 60% of the crowd that the headliner will receive later on in the night and of that 60% probably only half are really engaged in your set anyway. A lot of times, as in Dia’s case, you won’t be working with a very visually appealing stage either. Dia did not even have a backdrop with her name on it. So please forgive me if I say that her quick twenty-five minute set did not really impress me too much. Emily and I could never really put a finger on what type of genre her music was but it definitely wasn’t country. If we couldn’t get into her set by watching her from two rows away, something was definitely missing.
Dia Frampton at the concert on Thursday
After grabbing drinks during the set change, we made it back to our seats in perfect time for the second opening act…Justin Moore. I had the opportunity to meet Justin Moore and watch him perform last October in Missoula when he was on the Miranda Lambert tour so I definitely had an idea on what to expect. Basically, there were not too many surprises. This was just fine by me though because I thoroughly enjoyed him the first time around. He still brought the energy, the passion, and the tight pants to Spokane that he displayed in Montana. He still carried with him his pro-gun rights, small town loving attitude as he talked to the crowd. He definitely had a little more of a swagger than last October though. A little more cocky, a little less shy. But I can’t say this surprised me, just in the past five months his career has continued to skyrocket. He changed his set list around for the Spokane show as well. He pretty much saved all of his radio hits for the second half of the set. I actually thought it was great planning, it kept me excited the whole time. A cool highlight of his performance came when he sang “With a Little Help from My Friends,” also known as the Wonder Years theme. I can’t say I became any more of a Justin Moore fan than I already was after watching him the second time around but he definitely put on a decent show.
Justin Moore was just as good the second time around.
After going through the same drill as we did during the first set change, we made it back to our seats drinks in hands (both hands) right before Blake Shelton took the stage. Only this time, instead of staying in our second row seats we climbed over the chairs in front of us and filled the front row, not thinking about the people who occupied those seats during the first two acts. Joining us in our front row assault were two very nice women who looked much younger than they were, Kathy and Serenity. The four of us were ready to party.
Blake Shelton came out on this Star Trek type elevator deal singing “Footloose.” Everyone in the arena went crazy. I had not received an adrenaline rush like that at a concert for quite a while. The opening of his set was absolutely superb. After “Footloose” he sang “It’s All About Tonight,” “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” and then one of my favorite Blake songs of all time, “Don’t Make Me.” Talk about packing a punch! After he sang “Don’t Make Me,” and really established that tone, he started to really interact with the crowd.
Blake Shelton killing it to open the show.
Now going into the concert I was ready for a tough, cocky, borderline arrogant attitude from Blake Shelton. That is just how I have always pictured him and how he has come across to me while on television. I was actually kind of looking forward to it. But let me tell you, this was not how he acted in concert. He was very charming and personable with the crowd. When he talked about Nashville and the powers that be, he stuck it to them but he never seemed above any of us. His stories were engaging and he seemed to give genuine respect to the people of Spokane as they had packed every single seat in the arena.
I never got bored or distracted during his whole time on stage. The hits just kept coming and coming. He sang “Some Beach” and “Drink On It” back to back, both great performances that had everyone singing along. He then talked about his infamous Twitter account (@blakeshelton) and basically explained about how he does not censor what he says. He can be happy, mad, or drunk and he will still tweet. He again reiterated the point how he hates the suits in Nashville and how they should give up on trying to control what he posts through Twitter. He then took a fake cell phone and threw it right to Emily who caught it like a champ!! He then went right into “Kiss My Country Ass.”
Emily and I with Blake in the background
The concert just kept rocking. Blake shook the hands of us four numerous times. We repeatedly annoyed the security guard who acted as if her life depended on not letting us get too close. Emily and all the other girls at the show had their hearts melt when Blake went out to the very end of the stage, sat on a stool, and sang “Austin.” He brought out Dia Frampton for a duet as well. All of the fans at the show who attended solely because they are fans of “The Voice” got their fix as Blake told a funny story about the first casting meeting they had. Basically Blake was the first one there and then Adam Levin, Christina Aguliera, and Cee Lo Green each came in separately after him. He talked about the entrance of each one and made fun of them…it was hilarious. After he ended with Cee Lo’s entrance into the meeting, he sang “Forget You.” The crowd responded very well to it and even though he sang the “Forget” version, it worked.
Such a great entertainer.
Shelton then went into “The More I Drink” and then sang another one of my favorite songs, “Honeybee.” After a couple more songs, he left the stage.
Now Emily had told me that she thought Blake would sing “God Gave Me You” for his encore before the show even started. I disagreed thinking that artists usually end with an upbeat, energy rocking song. Going in, I would have guessed that he would have sang either “Honeybee” or one of his drinking songs to close out. But as he left the stage and the only song I could really think that he had left to sing was “God Gave Me You,” I knew Emily was right.
He sang some other song to open up his encore and then finished with “God Gave Me You,” my favorite Blake Shelton song. It absolutely rocked. As the band left the stage Emily caught another guitar pick, giving her three picks for the entire concert in addition to her phone and the multiple hand slaps with Blake. Kathy caught one of the drum sticks, proving that it definitely pays to be in the front row.
Blake Shelton holding Emily’s hand.
Leaving the concert I told Emily that it was one of the better concerts I had ever been to. Four days later I still think the same thing. It did not have the pyrotechnics, expensive videos, huge video screens, and massive production of say a Toby Keith or Keith Urban show but it had personality and it had a great entertainer singing hit after hit who had a great time with his audience. I will remember this concert for a long time. Don’t Blink.
PAST CONCERT REVIEWS:
Emily and I with our new friends, Kathy (white jacket) and Serenity (dark jacket).