Joe Nichols is currently touring in support of his latest album, "Crickets," having already spawned a pair of hit singles including the #1 song, "Sunny and 75." Madison's Star Country 96.3 promoted a free show that featured Nichols at Red Rock Saloon in downtown Madison, Wis., on March 6.
Nichols last performed in town during the Q106 Storytellers Jam [review] in October of 2013 where he performed alongside Danielle Bradbery, David Nail and Brett Eldridge. While both shows drew a capacity crowd, the Red Rock Saloon was heavily tilted toward a college-aged fans. As such, the atmosphere inside the venue on Thursday evening was lively with very little room to move.
Taking the stage at 8 p.m., Nichols was all smiles as he launched into an hour-long set after asking the crowd, "How 'bout a drinking song," before opening with "Brokenheartsville." He noted the crowd's exuberance and said, "Wow, I think I was totally unprepared for this," then followed up with "Size Matters."
The packed house quickly warmed the Red Rock, prompting Nichols to lose his jacket while also eliciting a few happy shrieks from his female fans before he introduced, "Yeah." His latest hit single quickly turned the night into a sing-along.
A number of playful songs kept the crowd lively. "She Only Drinks When She Smokes" transitioned into Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All" followed by "What's a Guy Gotta Do" and "Take It Off." A chorus of "Joe needs a beer" from fans quickly had the band laughing and exemplified the crowd's mood.
Nichols thanked the audience and Star Country for helping him attain another #1 single, as the band started to tease "Sunny and 75." He had to ask the crowd to slow down, as they had already started singing the opening verse while was trying to acknowledge their support.
A country interpretation of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" and Hank Williams' "Family Tradition" showed Nichols' old-school country roots. He then finished the set with "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off," drawing a few articles of clothing into the air including a bra that Nichols proudly displayed on his mic stand as he giggled through his salutations before leaving the stage.
An uproarious chant of "one more song" brought Nichols and his band out after a five-minute break. Nichols was likely done for the night, but the fans persistence got him back on stage. "You have been one hell of a crowd tonight Madison," exclaimed Nichols, before performing Haggard's "Country Boy Can Survive" to close the show.