Wait worth it for Alan Jackson

Jeff Turnbull, AAP March 4, 2011, 7:18 pm

It's taken two decades for American country music legend Alan Jackson to come see us in Australia but after his opening show in Melbourne the wait was worth it.

He may not be that well-known in mainstream music but the Stetson-wearing Jackson, with 34 No.1 hits on the US country charts, can just about walk on water for his millions of fans around the world.

His shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane sold out within hours and the 52-year-old, whose favourite TV show is The Andy Griffith Show, celebrates ordinary working rural folk who drive four-wheel drives and are faithful to their spouses.

The songs are dripping in small town Americana but the laid-back Jackson gets away with it and only endears himself even more to his followers.

It was a case of the country came to the city with an overdose of check flannel shirts, RM Williams boots, the obligatory cowboy hat and all ready for a hoedown at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena.

With a man with such a huge catalogue of songs, Jackson could have spent all night just singing his No.1 hits but veered away with a great rendition of Summertime Blues.

His eight-man backing band - The Strayhorns - provided a driving beat for the music with the fiddle, the slide guitar and the banjo which make the music country.

Jackson, oozing his southern charm, told the audience that he appreciated them coming out to see him on Friday night.

"I got here a couple of days ago and it's as pretty as everybody told me and you're real people down here and we appreciate your hospitality."

He said he was just going to sing some drinking songs, some hurting songs and songs about life, "which make up country music for me".
Jackson was given standing ovations by the 10,000-strong crowd who sang along with every song.