Blake Shelton Takes Over Bakersfield

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Blake Shelton is the second country artist to start his tour in Bakersfield, which was appropriately named “Blakersfield” for the day, and he seemed to get a kick out of that. The country singer – turned -judge wasted no time in getting the party started at Rabobank Arena on Thursday night for the first “Doing It To Country Songs” show of 2017.

Shelton opened with “Neon Light” and the audience was hooked, before he even had to go into a series of other hits, including one of his more recent songs, “Doin’ What She Likes.”

He charmed the crowd by noting how many beautiful California girls were in the audience, but that he wasn’t trying to forget about the guys. He knows what it’s like to be, you guessed it, the… “Guy with the Girl,” when he walks into a room. This is easily my favorite song of any genre at the moment.

He said he was going to be honest, and not b.s. like some of the other artists out there. And he was. He didn’t hold back when the crowd joined him for sing-a-longs on a few of his songs with repeat phrases and the catchy ‘ooh’s’ and ‘aah’s’ in the background. He was feeling a special connection until the third song, when he then decided it was just no longer working out. It was just judge in him coming out. He did say the pitch was good, so it wasn’t all bad.

While Shelton sang plenty of the newer hits that fans love and adore, such as “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?,” “She’s Got A Way with Words,” “Lonely Tonight,” or “All About Tonight,”  he certainly hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Shelton stripped it down to just him and a guitar. That’s where it all started for him and the way it starts for a lot of country singers in Nashville. He threw in some of his older hits, like “Old Red” “Some Beach” and of course, his first number one radio hit, “Austin.” It’s a powerful song on its own, but hearing it live with just the singer and an acoustic guitar, is an entirely different story. I almost shed a few tears.

“I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of the most country crowds I’ve seen in awhile,” he told the crowd and caused everyone to go nuts. After all, we are Nashville West, so we have a reputation for bringing the noise when we need to.

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There had been speculation throughout the week about whether Shelton would bring a special guest onstage. In particular, a certain Orange County girl, who also just happens to be his girlfriend. But, Shelton, cleared that up pretty early on that it was just going to be him for the night. If he read a bad review the next day, it was going to be because the audience was singing along correctly. He was right!

Near the end of the show, Shelton told the Bakersfield audience that he felt at home on stage here. “You want me to just move here? Get me out of LA, please,” he said. Though, it was nothing against LA. It was the perfect transition to sing his cover of Michael Bublé’s “Home,” which Shelton also released as a single years ago.

The country crooner was experiencing some allergy issues (welcome to Bakersfield), and his throat was doing some weird things, but he said he was just going to go for it that night. He joked about canceling the next night, which was his Los Angeles show, but said that wouldn’t happen, and it didn’t.

Shelton closed out the show and returned for his encore of “Footloose,”when someone tried to run onstage. The best thing about it? Blake didn’t miss a beat, he just let security handle it and said “look at her.” You can’t make this up, and I’m sure it isn’t the first time this has happened to him.  He also sang “Boys ‘Round Here” with Raelynn, who originally sings on the song with him and The Pistol Annies.

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I know Shelton likes to sing his radio hits and the songs people know all of the words, too, I tend to disagree. I always love when artists throw in obscure songs that tend to be my favorite from an album. I would’ve given just about anything to hear him sing “One Night Girl” live, but alas, I didn’t get that.

Shelton’s opening acts were both of “The Voice” fame: Raelynn and Sundance Head, who was the past season’s winner. Sundance sang many covers that he’d done on the singing competition show and an original that he’d written for his wife. He had the essence of a bar on Broadway in Nashville; the soul of someone who lives and breathes music, still trying to make it, has a great Chris Stapleton-type voice. Raelynn impressed me so much – she was charismatic, upbeat and with that adorable southern charm, she’s unstoppable and a true star in the making. Her debut album will be released in March.

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It wasn’t a large production with a grand stage design or video, but Shelton was connecting on a personal level with the audience. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. I’ll be the first to admit that I never thought I’d be at a Blake Shelton concert. Over the past couple years, I’ve found myself turning into a fan. Shelton is unapologetically who he is. He speaks his mind and if you don’t like him, that’s alright. In all honesty, I was a bit nervous to go to one of his shows because of that. He has some colorful language at times and only used a bit of that at the show, but for the most part was tame – joked around and kept it about the music. He’s naturally witty and sarcastic, and that definitely came out. It was a great night; hopefully Bakersfield set the bar for the rest of his tour, and that he’ll continue to make a stop here in years to come. I can’t wait to see him in concert again. Thanks for turning me into a fan, Blake. Keep doing your thing.

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