Zac Brown Band brings southern comfort to the Carrier Dome

Review: Friday night, the country superstars from Atlanta, Georgia pleased a packed house with a show full of nothing but good-old fashioned fun.

Despite over 90 minutes of anticipation, the crowd’s energy grew exponentially from the second the Zac Brown Band stepped onto the stage until the group’s last note sounded.

The opening acts, Levi Lowrey and Blackberry Smoke, teased the audience for over an hour, shouting between songs, “Are ya’ll ready for the Zac Brown Band?” Fans of all ages erupted in applause only to wait until after 8:30 p.m. for the band to appear.

A 10-second countdown around 8:15 p.m. left the audience with nothing but an empty stage and pre-recorded music streaming through the loudspeakers. The anticipation finally ended 20 minutes later when a 20-second countdown appeared on the projector. The audience joined in with the countdown, staring eagerly at the stage. Once the Zac Brown Band came into view, the crowd went ballistic. The explosion of excitement shook the entire Carrier Dome.

The Zac Brown Band filled the huge stage with an energy matched by that of the crowd. Audience members, many wearing cowboy hats and baseball caps, sang, clapped, and danced along with vivacity while the bands enthusiasm emanated from the stage. Lead vocalist Zac Brown engaged the audience in the songs, often keeping mum during popular verses as the audience’s voices carried all the lyrical weight.

The show opened with “Keep Me In Mind,” a song off  the album You Get What You Give and one of the band’s eight singles that have been ranked Number One on the Billboard country charts. The Zac Brown Band also performed each of its other seven number one singles.

Before continuing with the show, Zac Brown addressed the crowd.

“Thank you for making it feel like home again,” he said. “It feels good.”

The cheering started up again and only grew louder when the crowd realized that the band had begun playing another fan favorite, “Toes.” The band opened with the line, “I got my toes in the water,” and the crowd sang back, “ass in the sand,” creating a closer relationship between the performers and the fans as they sang the rest of the song in unison.

One of the shining stars of the night was fiddler Jimmy De Martini, who played multiple solos. De Martini’s longest solo ran for about three minutes during the band’s covers of Stevie Wonders’ “Isn’t She Lovely” and John Mayer’s “Neon.” All eyes were glued to the screen as the lightning fast fingers on his left hand made their way up and down the fiddle while his right hand moved the bow over all the right chords.

After a t-shirt cannon shot Zac Brown Band shirts at the “U! S! A!” chanting crowd, Levi Lowrey performed his song “The Problem with Freedom” off of his album I Confess I Was a Fool. During this song the crowd calmed down. Some audience members sat down, only to be brought to their feet again when the Zac Brown Band returned to stage playing a new unrecorded song. Its lyrics, “one day with you is all that it takes to bring me back again,” had the crowd cheering and screaming until the song’s final note.

 “Jump Right In,” from the album Uncaged, was easily the most interactive song of the night. Zac Brown instructed the left half of the crowd to sing the title line with him and the right half of the crowd to repeat it back. By the end of the song the Dome was shaking from the fans’ raised voices, stomping feet, and clapping hands.

Brown spoke up between songs to send prayers to Hurricane Sandy victims and thank the band’s tour sponsor, Jack Daniels, and management company, ROAR. Brown also asked the audience to support Camp Southern Ground, a camp he founded to help children overcome academic, social, and emotional difficulties to reach their full potential.

The band wrapped the show up on a patriotic note, piggybacking the first verse of America the Beautiful with the band’s first number one hit on the country charts, “Chicken Fried.” People in the crowd held American flags and some with somber faces seemed to connect to the patriotism on a deeper level.

The fans, most wearing blue jeans and drinking beers, were on their feet the entire night. They seemed genuinely entertained and satisfied by the performances. By the concert’s end, audience members with floor seats had moved from their respective rows and into the aisles for better views and extra dancing space. While leaving the Dome someone deemed the concert “epic,” and others around him agreed. After the Zac Brown Band exited the stage, the audience had enjoyed a full two hours of the band’s energy and music.

The closing song’s lyrics reiterate some of the things fans enjoy that were fulfilled that night: “You know I like my chicken fried, a cold beer on a Friday night, a pair of jeans that fit just right, and the radio up.” But instead of listening to the radio, the audience was blessed to hear something much more stimulating: the Zac Brown Band, live.


Photo via flickr / Mark Runyon

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