Country trio Rascal Flatts kicked off their North American tour to support their latest CD “Rewind” on a cold Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis, MO with a hot and vibrant show. It seems they keep outdoing themselves with a show that was the most fun this reviewer has seen from them in years, which says a lot since their shows have been entertaining in the past.
There was something different about this show, however as it seemed to go by way too fast.
With temperatures in the 40’s most fans were smart enough to bundle up in warmer clothing but many seemed to forget about the cold once Rascal Flatts hit the stage. The band (vocalist Gary LeVox, guitarist Joe Don Rooney and bassist/keyboardist Jay DeMarcus) seemed unfazed by the colder temperatures, even though you could see the breath of LeVox several times throughout the night.
A very visual live act, Rascal Flatts was flanked by four large video screens and at least 64 smaller ones displaying a plethora of images and color for the entire set. But as it has been the case with their previous tours it was not overkill as it blended seamlessly with the music.
They kicked off the show high above their backing band with “Payback” before coming down front with a nice mix of up-tempo (including “Summer Nights” and “Rewind”) and ballads (including “What Hurts the Most” and “Here Comes Goodbye”).
One of the highlights, and there were many, included a unique doo-wop version of Pharrell Williams mega hit “Happy” that included all the backing band members joining the trio up front in the spotlight. During the song comedian Ron White came out and “helped” as the crowd ate up the comedians’ antics during the song.
Sheryl Crow, who was one of the opening acts (yes, THE Sheryl Crow), came out for a two-song performance with the band as they performed her mega hit “Picture” as well as Rascal Flatt’s “My Wish”. Crow and LeVox joked back and forth with a genuine affinity and Crow joked that this was the most fun she has had on this tour so far, which consisted of only Friday at that point.
But just when it seemed the highlight had come and gone the trio jumped down into the crowd and wend to different parts of the reserved seat sections to mingle with the crowd and take a bunch of selfies with the plenty of lucky fans during the song “Summer Nights”. With Gary, Joe and Jay all in the crowd at the same time it was hard to tell who was where at any given time.
The band kicked it into overdrive, literally, for the encore as Jay paired up with the bands drummer for a double drum-off that evolved into an explosive cover of Motley Crue’s “Kick Start My Heart”, complete with pyro.
Even though the show was the first of their 35 city trek, they were already in mid tour form. LeVox’s voice was solid, Rooney’s guitar was spot on and DeMarcus’ bass line was tight with the rest of the band. This show certainly set the bar high for the summer country concert series, that’s for sure.
Gloriana performed a short 4 song set to open the show and Sheryl Crow wowed the audience with a 10 song set that featured “All I Wanna Do”, “Soak Up the Sun” and “Everyday is a Winding Road”. Her voice was as strong as ever, and it is still shocking to see her opening a show for anyone. Fans certainly got their money’s worth with this show.
Rascal Flatts Setlist:
Here Comes Goodbye
What Hurts the Most
Fast Cars and Freedom
Bless the Broken Road (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band cover)
Love You Out Loud
Happy (Pharrell Williams cover)
Picture (Sheryl Crow cover- with Sheryl Crow)
My Wish (With Sheryl Crow)
DJ Tonight/Hot in Here/Here’s to You
Life is a Highway (Tom Cochrane cover – with Sheryl Crow and Gloriana)
Kickstart My Heart
Me and My Gang