A number of musical artists rolling through town since the Blues won the Stanley Cup have offered a crowd-pleasing nod to the hometown heroes. But during his show Friday night at a packed-to-the-rafters Enterprise Center, Thomas Rhett went all in.
On Thursday, the pop-country star took to the venue’s Twitter account to call for fans to come to his concert in Blues gear, hoping the show would be a “blue-out.” Onstage, Rhett himself was decked out in a plaid shirt bearing the Bluenote and a team hat. His six-piece band wore Blues T-shirts.
Several Blues players turned up onstage at one point. Practice for the new season may have started, but suffice it to say that the celebration goes on.
Rhett, too, seems to be enjoying something of a championship season. He’s the reigning ACM male artist of the year, and hit singles keep pouring out of him. Nearly all of the songs he played during his 90-minute show have spent time at or near the top of country charts.
As befits much of the genre these days, Rhett’s music owes plenty to pop and R&B styles. If it weren’t for the nominal twang in his voice, songs from early in his set, such as “Crash and Burn” and “Craving You,” wouldn’t seem out of place coming from a boy band, or “Vacation” from later in the show, coming from, say, Bruno Mars.
Rather than deny the point, Rhett underlined it, as his own disco-leaning hit “Make Me Wanna” segued seamlessly into a bit of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie.”
Much of Rhett’s appeal is that of a wholesome family man. “Look What God Gave Her,” the recent hit single that kicked off the show, features his wife and daughters in its video, and Rhett spoke about his family several times. He said he wrote the song “Notice,” from his most recent album, “Center Point Road,” for his wife, and “Remember You Young” for his daughters. Before playing the latter song, he announced that his wife was pregnant with “our third baby girl.”
His daughters also figured into an as-yet-unreleased song Rhett played during a brief set on a satellite stage. “To the Guys That Date My Girls” was alternately sweet and humorously menacing, at one point warning, “Remember when you pull her close to leave some room for Jesus/‘Cause if you ever cross that line, I swear, boy, you’re gonna meet him.”
That song is one of many that Rhett has co-written with his father, ’90s country star (and more recently, 2018 ACM songwriter of the year) Rhett Akins, who opened the show. Akins, along with Dustin Lynch and Russell Dickerson, who also performed, joined Rhett onstage for the beer ’n’ bro celebration “Beer Can’t Fix,” each of them continuing the theme of the night by donning personalized Blues jerseys.
Rhett checked another country bona fide box with “That Old Truck,” which, like “Beer,” is from his latest album.
After he tried out a few James Brown moves during the band introductions, Rhett slowed the pace with a pair of ballads: “Marry Me,” which contains a clever lyrical twist, and “Die a Happy Man, which plays to his strengths as a family-first guy.
The show wrapped up with high-energy takes on “Unforgettable” and “T-Shirt.”
Lynch’s 50-minute performance featured plenty of his own hits, including “Good Girl,” “Small Town Boy” and “Cowboys and Angels.” But a set piece that recalled his some of his country-music favorites — covers of songs by Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban — was a time-waster. He should save it for when he’s headlining shows.
Dickerson’s brief set emphasized his R&B influences on “Billions” and “MGNO,” but also included the country-leaning ballads “Yours” and “Blue Tacoma.”
Akins, meanwhile, reached back to his ‘90s heyday with hits “Don’t Get Me Started” and “That Ain’t My Truck,” but also emphasized his more recent success with songs penned for Jon Pardi and Blake Shelton. Slyly boasting of his greatest hit of all, he said, “For all you teenage girls who only came to see Thomas Rhett, Google ‘Thomas Rhett’s dad.’”