Rascal Flatts “Changed” 2012

Written by on July 26, 2012 in Country Corner, Cover Story, July 26, 2012, Live Reviews - Comments Off on Rascal Flatts “Changed” 2012

Rascal FlattsIt was a sweltering hot summer day on Saturday June 23rd, 2012 in Bristow Virginia, but that did not deter the sold out crowd of 20,000 plus at Jiffy Lube Live to show up for a great night of Country Music.

I got there in time to see Mike Eli, James Young, John Jones and Chris Thompson of the Eli Young Band (www.eliyoungband.com) stroll on stage as the crowd was still pouring in and getting to their seats, they started the night out with “Always the Love Songs” from their Jet Black and Jealous album, as I look out in the crowd I notice all the girls and even some guys with their “New Boots” and “Old looking Cowboy hats” thinking to myself how crazy they are in the middle of the first heat wave of the summer wearing those boots because they would be sweating so bad it would leave blisters on their feet, but that is what it’s like with die hard Country music fans, they just don’t care as long as they have a great night.

Eli YoungMike greets the crowd saying “How ya feel”? , We’re the Eli Young band and it is so awesome to be here and we want to Thank each and every one of you that came out tonight spending your hard earned money to have us entertain you tonight.”

Next up was their recently announced certified GOLD single from their Life At Best Album, “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” and here you can hear and feel the rhythm of Mike and James’ guitar and you can see that  Chris is having a great time entertaining the crowd throwing his drum sticks above his head and giving them a site to see, there are even a few couples in the crowd dancing around and having a great time throwing beach balls to each other, the only thing I think could have cooled things off would have been the venue having misters on stage or strategically placed in areas of the arena, but there seemed to be enough water and of course beer to keep the crowd cool.

Eli YoungMike addresses the crowd saying “ I see you all out there dancing, don’t be afraid to stand up in your seats, dance on the chairs if ya want to we don’t mind, but whatever you do be safe and have some fun with us.”

Next after that they roll into “Say Goodnight”, “When It Rains” and “Small Town Kid”, Mike takes a well deserved swig of ice cold water from one of the stage hands, takes a deep breath and says “Man it’s hot here in Virginia, that sure did feel good, now let me introduce to the rest of my Texas friends up here playing for you tonight”, he goes on to introduce James who gives the crowd a little play time on his guitar, then there is John, who treats the crowd to some of his talents on Bass, and last but not least there is Chris who stands up on his drum set and treats the crowd even more to a little Drum solo, Mike says “Thanks guys and Thank you all once again for coming out here we feel so privileged to be on this tour with Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts, it’s been an amazing time so far and we are so grateful to have shared in this experience, these last 2 years have been absolutely amazing for our band and we couldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t for each and every one of you standing and sitting out here and for that we say Thanks.” The crowd responds “We Love you” loudly.

Last of the night was their Platinum hit that they are well known for “Crazy Girl”, where Mike, John and James still continue to walk around the stage shaking some hands here and there and throwing the crowd some picks, they finish up and say “Thank You Virginia, we appreciate you coming out tonight, we love you.

Eli YoungEli YoungEli YoungEli YoungEli Young

This quartet from Denton, Texas has had a lot of success by building a career without a lineup change over the last 11 years and they are selling tons of tickets, and a crazy amount of downloads, their platinum single that they ended the show with had 1.5 million downloads of the track, according to their website they garnered three nominations at the upcoming Teen Choice Awards (Choice Country Song; Choice Country Group and Choice Breakout Group), their sound is a little edgy country with a mix of a little Rock and Roll, they appreciate their fans and they definitely all have a cohesiveness between them that shines on stage.

Little Big TownAfter stage hands cleared the stage and started setting up for Little Big Town, a nice set of cool breezes came through to cool off the crowd and as soon as it did everyone screamed “Hell Yea”.  You could see that all the seats were pretty full by this time and the lawn at Jiffy Lube Live was packed you couldn’t see the green grass.

Little Big Town consisting of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet struts on stage starting their set off with “Front Porch Thing” from their fourth album The Reason Why. Karen with and Kimberly move dead center stage, hands clapping above their heads belting out the lyrics all the while Jimi and Phillip are left and right stage backing them up on vocals but entertaining the crowd with their talents on guitar. Next up was one of the songs the quartets is best known for “Little White Church” from their fourth album The Reason Why, the four part harmony from this song along with the way they interact with the crowd just goes to show how well this band is and deserves to be headlining shows.

Little Big TownThey roll from there into “A Little More You” and then they finally took a breather to say “What’s up Bristow? Ya’ll look beautiful out here tonight and we are so glad to be here, how bout some noise?”  Crowd responds with an overwhelming “WOOS”, “Ya’ll ready for a little Pontoon?” to which they roll into Pontoon and keep the crowd entertained with their skills on the guitars and their harmonizing is just awesome, this song brings me back to when I was a kid in high school always going to the lake with my friends on their boat, it’s one of those good ole foot stomping country songs that reminds you about the good ole days.

Rolling on in their set they slow it down a little bit as Karen and Jimi go into the sad and soaring “Your Side of the Bed” which is a really heart wrenching song that will send chills down your spine. After that Kimberly looks out into the crowd and says “ Ya know what, we love being here with you all tonight and we may be a country band but we like to mix things up sometimes and make Pop songs into Country songs to see what they sound like, so tonight we are gonna see how this sounds”, They all start a little harmonizing “I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes I’m on the right track baby I was born this way” from Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and the crowd goes  nuts” singing along with every word. I must say that I liked this version almost as much as I do the original, they put their own little country spin on it and it definitely worked in my opinion.

Little Big TownLittle Big TownLittle Big TownLittle Big TownLittle Big TownRounding out their set they finished the night out with “Boondocks” from The Road to Here album and most of not all the crowd that had filled the venue were on their feet for the whole song clapping and harmonizing as well with them. They all came center stage, took a bow and said “Goodnight Virginia, we love you so much and thank you for coming out tonight”

This quartet from Homewood, Alabama has been around since 1999 and have not really got the recognition I believe they deserve, I was very impressed with their stage presence but most of all I loved the way they all harmonized with each other, this band deserves to be recognized for their beautiful sound and I know it is only a matter of time before they are.

Rascal FlattsBlack curtains fill the stage and the lights at the outdoor pavilion go completely black, one by one you see these pillars of lighted beads slowly descend from the rafters one by one, the curtain raises and you still see nothing but the lighted pillar beads, all of a sudden you see three shadows appear as Gary LeVox, Jay Demarcus and Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts (www.rascalflatts.com) heat up the already hot night of music even more by addressing the crowd immediately saying “Virginia put your hands up” and as the pillars raise, the lights come on and they all jump straight into “Changed” their newest released eighth album of the same title Changed, which is a slow start to a already hot night of music as this is more of a song about rebirth and a slower song than I would have expected them to open up with.

Rascal FlattsFear not, they were just getting warmed up as they roll into “Banjo” and then they go into “Summer Nights” where Gary really shows his vocal prowess while Jay steps stage left to show the crowd his skills on his Fender Bass, all the while Joe Don is so amazing on his Gibson Les Paul that Gary moves over beside him and starts to just watch like he had never seen Joe Don play like this but all the while singing and playing it up with the crowd and 3 multi colored light cages drop from the rafters lighting up with Fireworks that light up all the way out into the night it lights up the whole venue.

Gary asks “Are you warmed up yet Virginia? Crowd yells so loud you can’t even hear what they say. He waves to everyone out there and says “We are Rascal Flatts and we came here tonight for “Some Fast Cars and Freedom”? Anyone out there have any Fast cars? You hear a lot of the guys in the crowd respond “Hell Yea”, Gary says “Well I know the only way we have our freedom to be here tonight is because of all the great men and women in our military who fought for us to be here and for that we say THANK YOU” and the crowd chants “USA, USA, as the band rolls into “Fast Cars and Freedom”, even allowing the audience to sing the chorus all on their own.

Rascal FlattsNext up was “These Days”, where the crowd nearly drowns out Gary they are singing so loud and dancing around as he and the rest of the guys work each and every angle of the stage, shaking and slapping hands with the fans making sure the fans are having a good time, Joe Don asks the crowd, “Everybody having fun tonight?” and of course you couldn’t hear yourself from a mile away the response was so loud. Rolling along they go into “Here Comes Goodbye”, and “Hot in Here”.

Gary stops and plays it up with the crowd a little and says “We’re gonna sing a little something some you out there may know and starts out singing George Straights “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” and the crowd goes nuts half way through and he pauses and says “Thought you all might like that one” and just laughs.  They are all center stage having so much fun with the crowd Joe Don says “We are going to let you all out here choose what you want to hear tonight, we are here for you so no matter what song of ours you want to hear we will play it, So tell us what ya wanna hear?” Crowd responds with “I Melt” and Gary acts like he isn’t so sure he remembers the words “but I know he is just playing with the audience because he is smiling the whole time.”

Rascal FlattsAs soon as they are done next the crowd responds with “Mayberry”, “Praying for Daylight” and during “Mayberry” the crowd again sings along nearly drowning out Gary, that as soon as they are done Gary says “ Man you guys out there sound so beautiful tonight Thank you so much.”   “Stand” is up next where images of speakers and equalizers light up the three cages on the stage then they go right into “Why Wait” before stopping for a few minutes to introduce the rest of the band and take a few minutes to drink a few swigs of much needed water.

Slowing things down a little bit the piano player is the only thing lit up on stage as the rest of the venue is completely dark, and when you hear the familiar notes of this next song you know which one it is,  you can barely see Gary’s shadow center stage when all of sudden this one beam of light shines on him as he starts off with “I set out on a narrow way many years ago, Hoping I would find true love along the broken road” from “God Bless the Broken Road”, and you immediately see lighters and cell phones light up and the lights slowly come on as Gary’s amazing vocals melt you with his passion on this song.

Rascal FlattsAs he finishes up he says “Virginia Thank you so much, we couldn’t have come all this way without each and every one of you and we are so blessed to be here tonight and the lights go back out for a much needed few minutes break”.  After a short period they all come back on stage where the drummer gives the crowd a few minutes of awesome drum solo where the cubes on the stage were lighting up with every beat matching him every time and the guys come center stage once more and roll into “Love You Out Loud”, giving Joe Don a chance to slay the crowd with a guitar solo so worthy that the crowd acted like they were “bowing” to him once he was done.

Next among the list was “Life is a Highway” that had images from the Disney movie Cars light up the monitors, “Me and My Gang” where they showed images of the band and their families when they were younger and members of each of the bands family to give the crowd just a little peak into their lives,  “Here’s to You”, where Gary takes one of the audience members camera and starts taking pictures of himself singing, Joe Don shredding on his Gibson, Jay killing it on his Fender and the rest of the crowd before handing it back to them, then roll right into “What Hurts the Most” and at the end of what hurts the most they said “Goodnight Virginia, we love each and every one of you and thank you for coming out tonight.” And the stage goes completely black as if it was over.

Rascal FlattsThey all step off stage and no one leaves just yet as the crowd chants “Rascal Flatts” multiple times,  and then all of a sudden the 3 lighted cubes descend from the rafters once again and all three shadows appear out of the darkness and they all belt out “Get your hands in the air Virginia here we go” and as the lighted cubes raise up they start into “We’re an American Band” as the lights at Jiffy Lube Live light up the rest of the band comes center stage along with Eden’s Edge, Eli Young Band and Little Big Town, as soon as it was over they all said once again “Thank You Virginia, we love you and Thank you to all our military for giving us this freedom we have Goodnight” Ending one awesome night of music.

I have wanted to see Rascal Flatts live in concert for a very long time now, I think it is because I love their music, their harmonies, everything about their music just speaks to me, it is no wonder they are selling out arenas and venue’s everywhere they go, I know there isn’t a song they didn’t sing tonight that I didn’t know except of course some of the newer ones from “Changed” as I haven’t picked up that CD to add to my collection but I did before I left.

Rascal FlattsRascal FlattsRascal FlattsRascal FlattsRascal FlattsRascal FlattsRascal FlattsAll Access wants to send out special Thanks to all involved in allowing us to be here tonight and we also would like to thank the staff at Jiffy Lube Live for always treating us well.

Review by: Stephen Gibson
Photography provided by: Stephen Gibson Photography