Randy Travis made magic last night
Last night, on a balmy evening on the bustling Downtown Mall, a decidedly, unhip, un-age-conscious crowd of nearly 1,500 moseyed in to witness the voice of a country generation, Randy Travis.
Not only did he did not disappoint, he stunned.
The 50-something singer has the pipes of someone half his age, and presents a musical experience that is produced but not campy, simple but not lacking fullness.
Backed by an eight-piece band, many of whom have 20+ years of road experience with the singer, Travis put on a show of a lifetime, except that it was show 31 on a 60-stop "Passing Through" tour.
In a time when young bands may stumble off the stage drunk, or country legends leave the stage high on prescriptions, or rawk bands play for a mere 35 minutes, this 90+ minute show of career highlights (the guy had a lot of #1 hits) was delightful.
Hitting the stage to the tune of "Digging up Bones", followed quickly by "1982," Travis had the crowd in his palm from the start. Flashbulbs lit the evening sky, as rabid fans rushed to the stage to get a photo of a living legend with an "aw-shucks" attitude that comes off as genuine.
Clad from head to toe in black, the band easily shifted from shuffles to waltzes to up-tempo footstompers. The obligatory three-song medley of hits came early in the show, just prior to Travis taking to a stool for a finger-picked verson of the Beatles' "Nowhere Man" that had the stunned crowd singing along.
Affable and lighthearted, Travis told several jokes that were actual knee-slappers, including one about Thomas Jefferson breaking his nose and Osama Bin Laden mishearing the term "70 Virginians."
Travis' recent forays into country gospel have served him and his audience well, with the surprise, recent hit "Three Crosses" getting a rousing ovation and sing-along. Of course, he saved his biggest hit for last, and "Forever and Ever, Amen" left the crowd begging for more as they headed to the souvenir stand, before shuttling off into the Charlottesville night.
For a guy who has reviewed a lot of concerts, 11th row center Randy Travis on July 26, 2007 ranks near the top for pure enjoyment, and unadulterated musical joy.
–By J. Holdren who has been a little AWOL from the Hook since circa 2003 when he was busily reviewing CDs.