03/15/2011

Singer of simple songs wows Brisbane

Chris Hutton, AAP
March 13, 2011, 11:21 am

After six sell-out concerts in four venues across three states, country music legend Alan Jackson's first Australian tour has come to an end.

The "legend" in this case is well deserved.

Jackson has had 34 number one selling singles and sold more than 50 million albums, but his Australian fans have had to wait more than 20 years for him to come Down Under.

Was it worth the wait? Most definitely.

This was a tour which gave the fans a chance to hear Jackson singing those number one hits live and on stage.

Fans were on their feet even before the first moment he walked on stage and were ready to sing along within seconds of the opening bars of each song.

These were not music fans or country music lovers checking Jackson out on the off-chance it might be a good night.

They were the hard-core Jackson followers, singing along with every lyric, and lapping up his every word between songs.

"It's a beautiful country," he told the audience, "and everyone's been so nice to us down here and I'm glad to finally get the chance to come and play y'all some country music.

"We're just gonna play you a bunch of ol' songs about life and love, some fun songs, some drinking songs, some heartache songs, some good ol' sad songs, everything that makes up country music to me."

And that's what he did.

The fans danced and sang along to Little Bitty, Chattahoochee and Summertime Blues, with some of the biggest cheers for what appears to be their favourite drinking song, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere.

He reminded us of the importance of family with Remember When, Small Town Southern Man and Drive, dedicated to his late father for taking the time to give him experiences at the wheel that will never be forgotten.

And I felt especially privileged to hear him sing Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), his song about the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US.

As he says in that song he is just a "singer of simple songs", but it is the simplicity of them that gives an added depth.

The concert was simple too.

Jackson did not need to be lowered from the ceiling and be surrounded by writhing dancers; there were not thousands of flashing lights and smoke machines; the only "high-tech" addition was videos on the big screen behind him with shots of the family and other scenes which helped illustrate his songs.

His last song before the encore, Where I Come From was backed on the big screen not by shots of his home town in Georgia, but by pictures of Brisbane, with the biggest cheer for the statue of Wally Lewis outside Suncorp Stadium.

Jackson also shared a few insights into his life, explaining how his first song bombed on the charts and he was thinking about going out and getting a job.

Then he explained how his second song, Here in the Real World took off, and with a smile on his face and twinkle in his eye, he told us, "I haven't worked since."

Jackson did not have to work hard on Saturday night at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, but he entertained well and we hope it won't be another two decades before he is Down Under again.

As one fan said at the end of the concert, "That was awesome."

Yes, it was.

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