09/14/2012

Country star Alan Jackson plays to full house at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

‘Summertime Blues’ singer performs show on cool evening

By Mark Hughes Cobb
Staff Writer
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Marion R. Walding | The Tuscaloosa

 

TUSCALOOSA | A full house on a cool-breeze night presaging fall greeted country music superstar Alan Jackson at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on Thursday.

Opening act Lauren Alaina, a 17-year-old from Georgia and ­runner-up in the 10th season of “American Idol,” bounced through a half-hour set of upbeat country pop, typified by her cover of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” and closing with her 2011 hit “Georgia Peaches.”

Jackson, 53, came splashing out with a Vegas-style light show and central projection flanked by the Amp’s own big-screen system. Last night was his first stop in Tuscaloosa since the 1998 University of Alabama Homecoming concert at Coleman Coliseum. He couldn’t have played all his hits in one show; the Newnan, Ga. native couldn’t even have played just his No. 1 hits, all 35 of them, unless he wanted to make the show into one long medley.

But he rolled out a colorful sampler, kicking off a fast and familiar grouping of No. 1s like “Gone Country,” “Livin’ on Love,” “Country Boy” and “Summertime Blues,” leaning on the more traditional country and honky-tonk sounds with which he’s most associated.

An all-ages crowd of about 6,000 rollicked along in the wake, singing and dancing along.

“I’ve always loved Alan Jackson. He’s amazing,” said Stormie Gay, a 15-year-old fan from Tuscaloosa. “I’m really looking forward to hearing ‘Chattahoochee.’ ”

“Alan Jackson is one of the best country singers of all time. The weather’s perfect and everyone’s having a good time,” said Lindsey Badham, a 20-year-old nursing student at UA.

“I’ve been listening to Alan Jackson since I was little, and it’s a real treat to get to hear him sing tonight,” said Jacob Gentry, 22, a UA student from Indiana who’s fond of singing Jackson’s songs at karaoke.

The star kept up a steady balance, playing a slow one for every three or four faster songs. “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” one of his earliest hits from the 1991 album of the same title, ripped by at almost punk speed. He slowed it way down for “Remember When,” a particularly poignant slice of life about Jackson’s early life with his wife and daughters, recorded after a rather public breakup; the couple later reconciled.

The center-built widescreen flashed images of video shot around Tuscaloosa as Jackson closed the show with his first No. 1, “Where I Come From.” After a short interval, the band came back out to encore with a road-trip medley, the romping “Mercury Blues” followed by stomping “Dixie Highway.”

Sophia Jones contributed to this report.

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