Fresh off his album release, Brantley Gilbert is tearing up the country with his “Let It Ride” tour. I got the chance to make it out to one of his shows, specifically the show in Richmond, Va. Let me start of by saying, I’ve seen Brantley Gilbert play at least 5 times prior to going to this show, and I admit that I was a bit skeptical about going because of my opinion about the “Just As I Am” record, with that being said, this is going to be my review about his live show performance.
The crowd was beginning to get restless when the video introduction started, Brantley Gilbert sitting on a bike, looking in the opposite direction of the camera. Next angle you see him looking at the camera with his hat down, one finger over his lip, simply “Shhshing” the crowd. He steps off his bike, removes two guns from their holsters and places them on a table along with some brass knuckles, then removes his jacket. The next couple of shots it shows his band members, then it cuts to all of them with Gilbert himself screaming “BG Nation”. This is where I figured the curtain would drop and the show would get started, nope, wrong. It turns to a hardcore bass thumping video of him and his band, walking. For another minute, I watched this introduction, until FINALLY, the video cuts off, and a light shines on the curtain. A silhouette of Gilbert standing there, the crowd goes insane, and BOOM, it drops and you hear the first couple of riffs of “Kickin It In The Sticks”.
“Welcome to the home of the hillbilly….” then it becomes a little inaudible, “…Barbed wire, moonshine, whiskey”, you can really tell that the “growl” that everyone loves about “BG” is starting to effect his overall singing. And that was pointed out to me, I didn’t catch it at first myself. It kind of shocked me that he started his show off with this song. I’m used to this being one of the “middle of the show, get the crowd pumped” songs, man was I wrong. The crowd was rocking, the band was killing it on stage, although something about the band as a whole was different (more on that in a little bit), it seemed to start off being a good show, aside from the “growl” of his voice.
A quarter of the way through the show Gilbert plays his first song off of the new record, “My Baby’s Guns And Roses”. I witnessed a number of people singing and dancing to the song. I was happy to see that seeing as the record just dropped last month. “Guns and Roses” ends and you hear those famous words BG always says right before he plays the #1 hit “Dirt Road Anthem”, “What chyall know bout them dirt roads?” The crowd erupts and the band starts to play DRA. You hear a couple of people saying, “Oh he’s playing another Jason Aldean song!?” Those are the people that you have to ignore, the ones that really just…..do not know.
About halfway through the show, the pace slows down. Gilbert speaks to the crowd about having that one girl, that one love that you just can’t let go. The one that your friends just don’t understand because they don’t know her like you do. And this of course leads into the hit song “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”. I love hearing this song live to begin with, but just when I thought the song was over with, he breaks into that last part, that’s not on the radio but is on the “Halfway to Heaven: Deluxe Edition”. “Not like I do, never understands, that girl’s my best friend, THAT GIRL’S MY BEST FRIEEENN….” and he loses it. You can almost see the disappointment in his face when he was unable to hit that note. But, that silent moment when he sings that part, golden. Thank you Mike Dekle for that.
And now we get to the moment of the show that just about sealed it for me. He talks to the crowd about how people have been wanting him to play more of his older stuff. Gilbert gets a stool, sits on it, and plays a mashup of songs off of the “Modern Day Prodigal Son” record. I just about had a heart attack. This is and was the most memorable part about the show. It sealed the deal for me. Playing, “Whenever We’re Alone”, “Picture On The Dashboard”, and “Best Of Me”, he could have done covers from other artists after that and I wouldn’t have cared. He didn’t however, he finished the night off with hit songs off of all three records and did an encore of his first #1 “Country Must Be Country Wide”
Now going back to that “thing” that seemed different about the band, someone was missing. Actually, two people were missing from when I last saw BG back in 2012. John Merlino was missing, but it was announced that he left the band earlier for personal reasons. He was replaced by Noah Henson earlier in the tour, but Jess Franklin was not present on stage. Prior to this show, he decided to take some time off for personal reasons and this is where I mention my good friend, Patrick Stevens. If you have ever read my blogs prior to this post, you would know that Patrick Stevens used to be in a band that I write about frequently on here, The Daniel Lee Band. Seeing Patrick killing solos on stage with Brantley Gilbert, it was pretty awesome. The chemistry he had on stage with everyone, including Gilbert, it was almost as if he had been with the band for a while. It was definitely one of the things that made me enjoy the show more. This and the acoustic medley of the show, it did me in. Of course, I am going to be a bit biased considering I am friends with someone who is in the band (temporarily), and the fact that I would much rather listen to someone play an all acoustic show than a full band show ANY day of the week. With all of that being said, go see this show on tour. It’s a good one. While yes the tickets are a bit expensive, my first BG show I saw him for $17, got pictures and autographs WITHOUT having to buy a membership to a fan club OR buy some over the top, ginormous flag that costs more than a trip to the ER (with insurance).
Rating – 8/10, the straining on his voice seems to be taking a toll on him as a whole, but that acoustic medley made up for it.