Brad Paisley wowed his audience at a concert Friday night at Gampel Pavilion with his amazing songs and humor.
The country star made a stop at the University of Connecticut during his “Country Nation College Tour,” sponsored by Frontier Communications. Paisley played his best hits from his three decade country music career during his hour and 15 minute set. Lindsay Ell, a newcomer country music singer from Canada, opened the show.
Paisley knew his audience well and opened the show with “Crushin’ It,” closing with an encore of “Alcohol.” In between, he played his well- known hits such as “She’s Everything,” “I’m Gonna Miss Her,” “Mud on the Tires” and “American Saturday Night.”
The large stage spilled into a platform extending into the standing room for audience members, meaning many lucky students were just a few feet from him.
Paisley, well-renowned for his guitar playing, switched guitars at least five times during his set, clearly showing his expertise.
Ell came back on stage to join Paisley for a rock guitar solo and the duet “Whiskey Lullaby.” In the original song, Alison Krauss accompanied Paisley. Ell is a talented vocalist, but over-sang her verse in the quiet and somber song.
In an October 2014 article written by Marissa Moss of Rolling Stone, Ell discussed being a female guitar player.
“From day one, when I started playing, I'd walk into venues and get the eye roll,” Ell said to Moss. “But it almost motivates me more to put on that good of a show. To earn that credibility is something I love to watch — to see how quickly I can watch perceptions change."
After Paisley and Ell sang “Whiskey Lullaby” on Friday, Paisley told the audience- “That’s called getting you’re a** kicked by a girl.”
Paisley also played “Perfect Storm,” “I’m Still a Guy,” “Letter to Me,” “Then,” “Riverbank,” “Water” and “Ticks,” among many others. During “Country Nation,” Paisley was joined on stage by the UConn cheerleaders, Jonathan the husky mascot and a costumed version of Paisley with a giant head.
Paisley charmed the audience with his jokes about college and his fame. Multiple audience members handed him their cellphones to take selfies and videos. During the last encounter, Paisley thumbed through the phone’s pictures, making the audience laugh.
Before playing “Letter to Me,” Paisley asked if anyone in the audience was failing a class already. He said, “No matter what they tell you, you can get by with a 2.5 just fine.”
Behind Paisley, his band members accompanied him with bass guitars, percussion and keys. Behind them, a tall display monitor showed graphics, photos, close-ups of Paisley and clips from his music videos.
The concert was open to University of Connecticut students, faculty, staff and their guests. The free tickets were distributed by a lottery system. Once the tickets were distributed, however, some students resold each ticket for prices of $15 or more. On Thursday afternoon, the athletics department, who planned the concert, announced more upper level free tickets were available for pick-up.
Meaghan Hayes, a freshman nursing major, said she enjoyed Paisley’s passion and energy he had for all his songs.
“My favorite song was ‘Whisky Lullaby,’” Hayes said. “It has a lot of meaning behind it and lets people know they’re not alone.”
Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.