If you were looking for a nice night of pop-country hits with a little extra flair tossed in, the Rascal Flatts show on Friday night satisfied the craving.
That’s not always easy to do; country fans can be finicky. But Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre was filled with 12,000 happy people, perhaps a combination of a perfect spring night and hearing the trio crack out some of their hits they don’t play that often anymore.
Songs like “Me and My Gang” and “What Hurts the Most” were preceded by video graphics that showed a playlist of Flatts hits, as if they were just being chosen. It was a nifty gimmick and part of the promotion for their “Summer Playlist” tour, which was in its second night.
Lead vocalist Gary LeVox even remarked how happy he was to be in St. Louis when “it’s not 490 degrees.” And guitarist Joe Don Rooney praised the city, too: “We play here every summer, and every summer, you show up.” A good bit of that praise led to them along with Jay DeMarcus dedicating “My Wish” to all the fans.
The threesome all took to stools to sit together for a stripped-down version of “Bless the Broken Road,” another playlist selection. And while it’s usually LeVox on vocals, DeMarcus and Rooney both took turns on this one before LeVox took it back. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that vocally, all three of them can get it done.
And say what you will about rock of the late ‘70s and ‘80s; go ahead. But you can’t deny that Flatts got a huge response and full-throated singalong when they rolled into the Foreigner hit “Feels Like the First Time.” Had they dared to try “Gloria” at any point in the night — as many of the thousands there kept tabs on the Blues-Sharks game and sported Blues shirts — it would have made Foreigner feel like the last time.
They mixed their old tunes with new but I would have loved to hear “I’m Moving On” or “Skin,” two of their ballads that can bring a tear to the eye. Never mind, though, most of the crowd was delighted with “Yours if You Want It,” “Mayberry” and “Summer Nights.” Their stage looked like a Transformer or a Rubik’s Cube as parts rotated in and out to make new shapes, all of them lit by pink, purple and blue neon-looking lights.
They closed with the rollicking toast to music fans, “Here’s to You,” after a tidy hour and 35 minutes. The lights came up immediately afterward, sending the clear signal: No encore. Most of the fans were fine with that.
Had they wanted to play longer, Billy Currington could have returned some of the 45 minutes he spent on stage. He seemed to use his time to tick songs off a list. “Let Me Down Easy,” got it. “People Are Crazy,” done. “Pretty Good At Drinking Beer,” check. But pretty bad at making an effort. Maybe he had an off night, but his voice sounded weak. And I’m still not sure I’m on board with his backward baseball cap.
Jimmie Allen of “Best Shot” fame got the night started with about 20 minutes on stage.