Saturday was an unbearably hot, dusty, semi-disgusting, you have sweat in places you don’t like to talk about kind of day in the Thunder Bowl. By 10 p.m. when Blake Shelton took the stage in Twin Lakes, people were hammered and dirty. But man, they were not in the least bit tired.
As Shelton quipped four songs in, "Oh MY God! Look at how many country music freaks of nature have packed into this place tonight! Man, look at that! Look at that. That freaks me out. You guys are smashed in there. Somebody’s gonna end up pregnant because of this show. Y’all are smashed together. I’m officially nervous now. It’s been a rough week, man."
So it was. Shelton announced his divorce from Miranda Lambert earlier in the week. It was likely fresh in his heart. The audience, for their part, cheered very loudly in support of Shelton.
And that was it; after that, singer and audience carried each other. It was one of those shows that you hope you catch at some point in your life. It was big. It was high. It was hilarious. It was fun. It still felt intimate even though there were 30,000 people there. In short, it was kinda epic.
Shelton is a born performer. It doesn’t hurt that he’s played Thunder multiple times (if he is to be believed at least 70 times – but then he was drunk, he said, so maybe not). He knows what we like here in Wisconsin. He knows how to talk to us. At one point he said, "I’m actually really disappointed in the guys I’m seeing down here. Because there are so many good looking girls here, like I’m not just saying that. I’m serious, it’s like there are way more good looking girls than ugly ones." We get that. We just do.
Later, he lamented the fact that the Thunder stage is a crazy configuration that leaves the performer set off from the crowd, tagging it more like a visit to Home Depot, asking, "What the hell is this shrubbery doing up here? It looks like Home Depot up here. I mean, they do a good job, but damn."
I think what I’m trying to say is that Shelton knows his audience. He uses comedic timing, an authentically drunk personality and his definite relatability to bring his show to life.
And yes, he ripped on Adam Levine exactly once calling him a "douche bag" and hoping that someone posted that comment on YouTube. You had to know that was coming, but it didn’t make it any less funny.
Probably the coolest part of the show was during "Home." Shelton asked the audience to light up their cell phones. Thousands of tiny points of light lit up the Thunder Bowl. It was just so pretty.
But I’m shorting Shelton out of some very important props. His vocal chops for one. His musicality and his musicianship for two more. Shelton has this very warm, inviting voice that possesses just enough grit to make him authentically country. His pitch is fantastic. And when he’s live, he’s so much better than he is recorded. He takes liberties with songs, extending notes to suit his mood or the crowd’s.
Shelton and his band were acoustically amazing. Through 21 songs, they were brilliant.
14 years after his first hit single, Shelton has racked up the number one singles, albums and awards. Shelton has three certified platinum and five certified gold albums, along with 17 number one singles. That’s just insane – for any artist. To top it off, he’s currently into his unprecedented fourth year as CMA Male Vocalist of the Year.
But it’s not just his music that makes him one of the most popular male country artists. His bromance with Adam Levine, his on-air antics and his genuine talent as mentor on "The Voice" pull people in just as quickly and easily as any of his number one hits.
Success aside, Blake Shelton appears to be as down to earth as anyone you might meet on the street. He appreciates where he’s been, where he’s come from and where he might be going. His last album, "Bringing Back the Sunshine," was a chance to bring back the sound he had when he first started out in the industry – in other words, putting a little more country back into country music.
Further endearing him as a regular dude is his Oklahoma slow, southern drawl, his deer hunting forays and his reputation as a fun-loving, vodka-drinking, guy.
Shelton says often that he’s always trying to get better, to get to the next level.
And trust me, he leaves nothing out of his live performance. He’s definitely onto the next level. It was a privilege to be in attendance tonight. Though Shelton said it was a night he’d never forget, I don’t think there are many people there who will forget it either.
"All About Tonight"
"She Wouldn’t Be Gone"
"Doin’ What She Likes"
"Kiss My Country Ass"
"Mine Would Be You"
"Ol’ Red" (George Jones cover – though Shelton has released his own version)
"Who Are You When I’m Not Lookin’"
"Sure Be Cool If You Did"
"Drink On It"
"Home" (Michael Bublé cover)
"Boys ‘Round Here"
"Footloose" (Kenny Loggins cover)
"God Gave Me You"
In all of her experiences, time was focused on writing which has been a passion since junior high school. A series of food service industry jobs both before and after law school taught her that bringing out the human side in any story is key to great storytelling and good writing.
A die-hard east side girl, you'll usually find Lora down by the lake or on the Oakleaf. She's an avid photographer, and sometimes storm chaser.
Hobbies include biking, gardening, cross country skiing, swimming, blogging, and of course working on her fictionalized autobiography--fictionalized, because whose life is really interesting enough to fill 400 pages?
She's in IMDb. Look her up.