Concert Wrap: Chris Young and Colt Ford at the Arkansas Music Pavilion

July 30th, 2011 at 9:07 am

Chris Young. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

The too-warm-for-comfort temperatures accomplished only one thing: It made sure the clothes that accompanied the cowboy boots and hats were kept to a minimum.

It certainly didn’t keep the crowds away from the show by Chris Young and Colt Ford at the Arkansas Music Pavilion on Friday (July 29) evening. A long line of folks were waiting to get their tickets as Colt Ford took the stage, and by the time Chris Young came on about 9 p.m., it was still plenty warm, but the venue was also plenty full. I heard there was similar-sized crowd for an early season show from Pretty Lights, but this is the largest crowd I’ve personally viewed at the AMP this year.

What the fans — many of them decked out in cowboy boots, hats or the like — got to see was a pretty intriguing combo. Ford is a country rapper, although that doesn’t give him full credit. His songs and stylings lean into classic rock and Southern rock territory, and it was a seamless transition between his own hits (“Dirt Road Anthem,” “Country Thang” and “Ain’t No Trash in my Trailer,” to name a few) and those he covered throughout the night (such as Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” the lyrics of which Ford gutted in favor of his own). He’s plenty country, the type of person who can fit y’all twice into the same sentence. But he’s also a little rock ‘n’ roll, with the rock songs and metal chain that dangled from his side. Delivered with enthusiasm, which Ford had plenty of, it was a pleasing collection of tunes, even if some of his jokes and song selections got old and cliched near the end of the set.

Though Young is no pure at heart country boy (he didn’t even wear a cowboy hat! gasp!) he falls much more neatly in line with Top 40 country radio. That was evidenced by the legions who showed up to sing back his words to him at high volume. It’s hard to guess how high Young’s star will rise, but he’s certainly at the high point of his career so far.

His July 12 album, “Neon,” climbed its way to the No. 2 position on the country charts and No. 8 position overall. His latest single from that record, “Tomorrow,” was a No. 1 country singles hit, and he’s had similar success with past singles: “Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song)” “The Man I Want to Be” and “Voices.”

His setlist included all of those songs, but I only heard two of them. Prior commitments prompted me to leave early, but I stress it wasn’t from a disappointment in the concert’s proceedings.

There were plenty of happy people at the show. And plenty of cowboy boots, too.

Chris Young setlist (as pulled from stage): 1) That Makes Me; 2) Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song); 3) Save Water, Drink Beer; 4) The Dashboard; 5) Small Town, Big Time; 6) The Man I Want to Be; 7) Twenty One Candles; 8) I Can Take It; 9) Lost; 10) You; 11) When You Say Nothing at All; 12) Who’s Gonna Take Me Home; 13) Fishin’ in the Dark; 14) Lay It on Me; 15) Tomorrow; 16) Voices