By Don Chareunsy
Country superstar Brad Paisley brought his Virtual Reality Tour 2012 to Mandalay Bay Events Center over the weekend and performed to a sold-out crowd that equally shared its affection for first opening act and latest “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, while second opening act the Band Perry receiving extended applause and a standing ovation for the sibling trio’s hit “If I Die Young.”
There was plenty of love to go around, but it was Paisley, in black jeans, a red T-shirt and a light brown cowboy hat, who shined in the spotlight and pleased his adoring fans with a nearly 2-hour concert that included a marriage proposal -- Paisley congratulated the man and offered his condolences to the woman -- a signed guitar to a little girl and a little boy (possibly siblings) at the foot of the catwalk; and a light-and-laser show that would seamlessly blend in at the Electric Daisy Carnival.
Except that Paisley sings more about mud on the tires, fishing and whiskey lullabies rather than saving the world tonight and taking over control. And while EDC is outdoors and returns for a sequel at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this summer, the indoor Mandalay Bay Events Center was sauna-like hot and reeked of beer. In other words, Paisley fans were having a hella good American Saturday Night in Las Vegas.
Two of very likable Paisley’s most memorable moments of the night: Paisley is known for his self-effacing humor, and there was an extended monologue in which he mentioned, among others, Kim Kardashian and Charlie Sheen before launching into his hit “Celebrity,” complete with a video of a Muppet-like version of himself that would eventually end up onstage with him.
In the final third of the evening, Carrie Underwood joined Paisley onstage for the duet “Remind Me,” and the crowd went nuts. Nuts! Except that it was a (very good, no, great) hologram, as good as the hologram in Celine Dion’s resident show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace that had many fooled, as well.
Paisley’s setlist: “Camouflage”; “You Are the World”; “Welcome to the Future” (in which he tipped his hat to his fans in Tokyo(!), Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement); “Ticks”; “This Is Country Music”; “Waiting on a Woman” (performed in conjunction with the emotional video featuring Andy Griffith); and “Celebrity” (during with Muppet Brad and McCreery, in a black T-shirt, were onstage, with Paisley telling McCreery, “Welcome to the club,” and then instructing him to throw a guitar pick into the crowd).
Plus, “She’s Everything” (complete with the marriage proposal and the quip, “That’s a heckuva ring you got her -- you might want to check that it’s real!”); “Online”; “I’m Still a Guy”; his new single “Then”; “Letter to Me” (performed acoustically in a slightly raised platform on the arena floor); “Mud on the Tires”; “Working on a Tan”; “Whiskey Lullaby” (a duet with the Band Perry’s gorgeous Kimberly Perry in glittering blue mini-dress, and after which he introduced and thanked his band of a dozen years); “Back to the Future”; “I’m Gonna Miss Her”; “Remind Me”; “Alabama” (about the legendary band, not the state); and “Water.”
The encore was “American Saturday Night” and “Alcohol” -- concert souvenirs included black T-shirts emblazoned with “Alcohol: Some of the Best Times You’ll Never Remember.” Even with a little alcohol, this was a concert to remember.
Thanks to Tom Donoghue for his photo gallery of Paisley’s crowd-pleasing performance. Paisley, who brought his American Saturday Night Tour to Mandalay Bay in 2010, returns to town in April for the Academy of Country Music Awards, at which he has won Male Singer of the Year five consecutive years. After this concert, it’s easy to understand why.
Don Chareunsy is editor of VegasDeLuxe.com and arts and entertainment editor of LasVegasSun.com.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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