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Concert review: Brad Paisley tour rings in early weekend for country fans

A crowd of rowdy country music fans packed into the Schottenstein Center and raised their glasses to the weekend on Thursday night as Brad Paisley played hit after hit during the Columbus stop of his “Weekend Warrior” world tour.

Five-time Academy of Country Music male vocalist of the year Brad Paisley can only be classified as a country music legend. The Grammy award-winning star opened with a new song, “Last Time for Everything,” off his new album “Love and War” which dissolved into a cover of “Purple Rain” and a classic of his, “Old Alabama.” And the crowd went wild.

Paisley’s set was full of his most popular songs, including tracks from his previous albums such as “Crushin’ It,” “Then,” “Mud on the Tires” and “Riverbank.”

Paisley thanked our armed forces and welcomed five military personnel on to the stage, handing each one a beer. The country star connected with the Columbus crowd by telling a story about visiting his uncle in Pickerington, Ohio, when he was growing up, and shared his hopes that the Cleveland Browns will have a better season in 2018.

The last song he performed was “Today,” which was accompanied by camera shots of couples in the crowd projected on the big screen, as well as footage of military reunions with family members and football team victories. Paisley sang the lyrics, “And I don’t know about tomorrow. Right now the whole world is right.” After a country music show like this one, the whole world certainly did feel that way.

Paisley was accompanied by country stars Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell.  

Starting the show before the sun went down was Canadian country singer Lindsay Ell, who released her debut album “The Project” in August 2017. Strutting out on stage, shredding on an electric guitar and sporting gold, glittery sneakers, Ell did not disappoint. I became an instant fan, opening Spotify and adding her set to my music library while still in my seat.

Though her whole set was super catchy, “Castle,” which she called her favorite off the album, caught my attention with John Mayer-like guitar riffs and dreamy lyrics. The sound of police sirens filled the arena as she ended her set with her song “Criminal” which she excitedly told the crowd had broken into the Country Top 25.

Chase Bryant came to the stage next and stole my heart. He showed off his impeccable voice and addressed the crowd by singing “Hello Ohio” and other greetings a cappella. He performed some of his most well known songs, “Little Bit of You” and “Take it on Back” and celebrated our armed forces with a cover of John Mellencamp’s “Ain’t That America,” to which the crowd responded by singing it right back to him.

Bryant’s strongest song was “Change Your Name,” which he dedicated to his fiance in the house that night, and the arena immediately lit up with hundreds of tiny iPhone lights.

Dustin Lynch, a ball of energy, broke out with his song “One Hell of a Night” and he definitely delivered. In a giant cowboy hat and boots, he was a modern-day Dwight Yoakam and the crowd was loving every minute of it. He played songs from his newest album “Current Mood” which included a beautiful ballad “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” that he performed with a guitar in hand. His voice echoed through the arena and gave me chills.

Just as I was finally wiping the remaining tears from my eyes and gathering myself, it was time for his encore, “Seein’ Red.” With whole arena illuminated in red, fans cheered at the distinct opening guitar riff and danced along as he went into the chorus. The performance had me out of my seat and dancing by myself in the aisle. Lynch and his band linked arms and bowed, and

Lynch, having soaked up the energy given off by the attentive crowd, bounded off the stage.

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