Alan Jackson; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images
CHUCK DAUPHIN • MAY 20, 2017 - 2:12 PM
There seemed to be an emphasis on a certain musical style at Friday night’s (May 19) Alan Jackson concert at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater. More often than once, the term “Real Country Music” was uttered by Jackson, opening act Lee Ann Womack, as well as the fans in attendance for the show.
Taking to the stage with his 1994 anthem “Gone Country,” Jackson delivered one solid Country classic after the other, with each of the up-tempo songs transforming into a crowd sing-along in the process. With a video screen playing the original videos of the songs while Jackson and The Strayhorns performed them, the crowd was transported back in time with such hits as “I Don’t Even Know Your Name” and “Who’s Cheatin Who.” Jackson seemed to be in a very festive mood performing songs such as those, the rollicking “Good Time,” “Country Boy,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and his signature hit, 1993’s “Chattahoochee.”
Of course, that’s only one side of the Alan Jackson success story. The Georgia native has had a multitude of successes with ballad recordings, and he performed many of his finest. The singer poured each and every ounce of raw emotion in such heartfelt performances as “Here In The Real World” and “Wanted,” which have lost none of their staying power since their release close to three decades ago.
Of course, fans were expecting the hits. That goes without saying. However, the singer was in more of a reflective mood during the show, sharing stories about the writing of the afore-mentioned hits as well as compositions as “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.” Quite possibly, it could be where Jackson is at this stage of his career – ranking as one of the format’s more esteemed veterans, or maybe the recent announcement of his forthcoming induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame – just a few blocks away, but Jackson’s sharing of his memories about his career proved to make the evening a little more memorable than just strictly a collection of hit records. His recollections of his early life with wife Denise made the lyrics of such songs as “Livin’ On Love” and “I’d Love You All Over Again” even more memorable.
Quite a few times during the evening, Jackson mentioned the phrase “Real Country Music,” and that was very much in evidence even before he took the stage. Delivering a flawless set, Lee Ann Womack served notice that she is one of the most exceptional female vocalists to ever record in Music City. She peppered such material as “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” and “Never Again, Again” with as much raw emotion and power as she did when she originally recorded them over a decade ago. She displayed plenty of fire on her recent recording “The Way I’m Livin” and delivered perhaps her finest moment of her set with the under-appreciated gem “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger.” Womack returned during Jackson’s set to team up with the singer on a cover of Vern Gosdin’s “Till’ The End,” as well as “Murder On Music Row,” which caused headlines when Jackson recorded it with George Strait back in 2000. One could say the song was very prophetic, considering the boundaries that the format continues to push now. However, if you are looking for “Real Country Music,” it is still very much there. It all depends on where you look!