AUBURN HILLS -- The moon hanging above the Palace on Friday night, Oct. 10, was just shy of full. But that didn't make the party inside the arena any less crazy.
The triumvirate of Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr rocked a full house during the first of their two shows at the Palace with a brawny brand of country, a contemporary, currently in fashion blend that's light on twang and heavy on metallic guitar riffs and nods to rap. Banjos and pedal steels were there for some coloring, but there was nary a fiddle to be found.
And Aldean, the oldest and most established of the bunch, was the only one sporting a bona fide cowboy hat on stage.
The approach has polarized some country fans, but it's worked for platinum -- and multi-platinum -- sales and plenty of awards. And it was certainly in favor with the Palace crowd, an exuberant and denim-dominated bunch that was out for just the kind of beer-swiggin', arm-swingin' good-time Friday night that was chronicled in many of the evening's songs.
In his red plaid shirt and jeans torn at the knees, the burly Aldean certainly proved his mettle as an arena-caliber headliner during his 19-song, 85-minute set, complete with pyrotechnics, a six-tear rear-stage lighting rig, two large, diamond-shaped HD video screens and a moving platform shaped like the letter A. Liberally working a T-shaped walkway that took him further onto the Palace floor and two side ramps, he came out hard 'n' heavy with "Hicktown" and a lust take of "My Kind of Party," the latter ending with a lengthy jam by his five-piece band.
Aldean mixed flavors throughout the night, keeping the rock edge going on "Amarillo Sky," "Johnny Cash" and "Just Gettin' Started" (one of three songs he performed from his just-released "Old Boots, New Dirt" album), rapping during "Big Green Tractor," "1994" and "Dirt Road Anthem" and even tugging a few heartstrings with "The Truth" and "Don't You Wanna Stay." Aldean and Florida Georgia Line also staged a short bro fest during "The Only Way I Know." Only the dance club-styled "When She Says Baby" and his latest single, the R&B flavored "Burnin' It Down," fell flat, the latter spoiled by a bottom-heavy mix that eclipsed its subtleties.
The fans were quick to forgive those stumbles, however, especially after the set-closing "Crazy Town" and the encore "She's Country" revved up the octane again for a big and, literally, explosive finish.
Florida Georgia Line preceded Aldean with a 45-minute set that showed the duo's own day as a headliner is not far off. Following Farr's blink-and-you-missed it opening performance, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley rocked and rapped their way through a sampling of favorites from 2012's double-platinum debut "Here's To the Good Times," including energetic renditions of "Get Your Shine On," "Round Here," "This is How We Roll" and "Cruise," as well an effective performance of its cover of Black Stone Cherry's "Stay." The recent singles "Dirt" and "Sun Daze" represented the upcoming "Anything Goes" album along with its title track, and FGL left the stage like a group that will be saying, and singing, a lot more next time through town.
The three acts perform again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Palace, I-75 at Lapeer Road. Tickets are $59.75 and $29.75. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com
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