Concert Review - Wilkes-Barre, PA

IN CONCERT:  The Freight Train Tour

Brad Patton/The Times Leader

WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

Country music superstar Alan Jackson performs during his ’Freight Train’ tour stop at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township on Sunday night.

THE SHORT WORD: The “Freight Train” tour rolled into Wilkes-Barre Township on Sunday, bringing a couple boxcars full of traditional-sounding country hits. Newcomer Chris Young got the evening started with a smoking 25-minute set, closing with a crowd-pleasing “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song).” Josh Turner followed with an equally fine 12-song, 50-minute set highlighted by a great rendition of “Long Black Train.” But the evening belonged to headliner Alan Jackson as the 51-year-old legend and his sensational eight-piece band played one hit after another.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: Young also scored with “The Man I Want To Be” and “Gasoline.” Highlights of Turner’s set included a fine version of the George Jones classic “I’m a One Woman Man,” “Firecracker,” “I Wouldn’t Be a Man,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and his closer “Your Man.” Jackson was hitting home runs from the time he took the stage with “Gone Country” and his countrified version of “Summertime Blues.” Other highlights of the early part of his set included a stirring “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” “Little Bitty” and “Drive (For Daddy Gene).” He was still going strong later with great versions of “Mercury Blues” and “Good Time.”

THE SURPRISES: Halfway through the performance, Jackson and his band The Strayhorns sat on stools and played quick versions of some of his earliest hits including his first number ones “Here in the Real World” and “Wanted.”

FAST FACTS: Alan Jackson has had 57 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country charts since 1990, including 34 that reached No. 1. He has collected 14 Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards, including Top Male Vocalist in 1994, 1995 and 2001. He has 12 Country Music Association (CMA) awards, highlighted by Entertainer of the Year trophies in 1995, 2002 and 2003. He has one Grammy – 2002 Best Country Song for “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” – and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Josh Turner has released four albums and has hit the top of the singles charts three times with “Your Man” in 2005, “Would You Go With Me” in 2006 and “Why Don’t We Just Dance” in 2009. Both Jackson and Turner are members of the Grand Ole Opry. Chris Young was the winner of “Nashville Star” in 2006 and has released two albums. His latest album spawned back-to-back No. 1 singles with “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and “The Man I Want To Be,” which is entering its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart.

THE CROWD: The official count was not available at press time, but it looked like a pretty good crowd as there were very few empty seats. “You’re a pretty rowdy bunch for a Sunday night,” Jackson said following his seventh song. “Y’all must have tomorrow off or something.”

UP NEXT: The “Freight Train” tour will make its next stop in State College at the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday. The next concert at the arena will be Andre Rieu and his 55-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra on Monday, June 21.