Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
While some people showed up in southern-style dresses, cowboy hats, boots or plaid shirts, others accessorized themselves with a beer Friday at Nationwide Arena. And regardless of their attire, nearly all the concertgoers had one thing in common – they were there to see Brad Paisley.
At about 9 p.m., a white-light projection of Paisley came to view on a large black screen, set off by loud screams from the crowd.
“Hello, Buckeyes,” Paisley greeted his audience after opening the concert with songs “The World” and “Welcome to the Future.” Strumming a slow melody with his guitar between every sentence, he said, “This is the Virtual Reality Tour.”
Paying homage to Johnny Cash, George Jones and other country music artists, he then started to sing “This is Country Music.” On the screen, a waving flag appeared and people started to applaud. At the end of the song, Paisley showed his respect to America, taking off his signature cowboy hat.
Throughout the performance, Paisley played more than 20 songs set off by spectacular special effects through projection, lighting and video and an animated video produced by Paisley himself (as credited at the end of the video).
While his performance of “Whiskey Lullaby” seemed to be quite touching for some – the audience piped down in silence – Paisley lightened the mood and upped the party with his performance of “Celebrity,” during which he passively poked fun at Kim Kardashian and Kristen Stewart, referencing celebrities divorcing after 70-some days of marriage and falling in love with vampires.
Trying to connect with the audience throughout the performance, Paisley recorded a video using one of the audience members’ phones and he also gave his hat to a little kid.
Paisley brought his opening acts, Grammy-nominated The Band Perry and 2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery, to help sing his song “Alcohol.”
McCreery kicked off the concert earlier with “The Trouble with Girls,” during which he told the audience he keeps coming back to Ohio because of the girls, evoking screams from many female audience members.
After McCreery, The Band Perry came out. Lead vocalist Kimberly Perry said “catchy music is the people’s music,” and then her brothers, Neil Perry, who plays mandolin drums and accordion, and Reid Perry, who plays bass guitar, led into the band’s latest single “Postcard from Paris.”
A more unexpected guest also made their way to the stage later in Paisley’s set.
During his performance of “Remind Me,” a hologram version of Carrie Underwood popped up to sing her part of the duet. At first glance, the hologram fooled me - I thought it was Underwood in the flesh. It seemed that was all part of the Virtual Reality Tour though.
“(The tour) was named that because country music is supposed to be all about reality,” Paisley said. “Thanks to our music and beer, you can have anything you want to.”