Monday, October 05, 2015

Rascal Flatts bring Riot Tour to Irvine Meadows

Rascal Flatts brought their Riot Tour to Irvine Meadows on Saturday night (Oct. 3, 2015), a concert that deftly mixed the trio's best-known hits with a short medley of convincing covers in a crowd-pleasing 90 minute concert.

Singer Gary LeVox, bassist-keyboardist-singer Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney have been honing their style of country-pop for 15 years, and this tour is particularly a strong showcase for their songs thanks to the addition of an exceptional female vocal trio to their backing ensemble. The addition of the voices added depth wherever they were used, notably on the set opening "Stand" and gospel-tinged track "Riot" early in the night and the group's new R&B-flavored single "I Like The Sound of That" later on.

Rascal Flatts rocking out early in their set.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
After performing their second song (an upbeat "Me and My Gang"), Rascal Flatts succeeded in delivering one of the strongest moments of the concert, a poignant medley where they performed part of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" before weaving that classic into a more extensive section of Hozier's contemporary hit "Take Me To Church."

But everywhere Rascal Flatts thrilled the enthusiastic near-capacity crowd with rousing versions of its biggest hits. The melodic "What Hurts the Most" was bolstered by full harmonies from the band members and female vocalists, and included some top-tier electric guitar work from Rooney. "My Wish" was launched as a pretty piano-anchored ballad that included a crowd sing-along; the song artfully grew in power to include the female singers' voices and Rooney adding a soaring lead guitar solo. "Banjo" was a particularly effective choice, with the country rocker fused with a good dose of bluegrass.  
Rascal Flatts ended the night with a powerful version of the 2005 hit "Bless the Broken Road" and a freewheeling take of their 2006 Tom Cochrane-penned hit "Life Is a Highway."

Opening for Rascal Flatts was American Idol Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery, who performed a 35-minute set of country that straddled traditional outlaw influences with contemporary country pop. He used his rich baritone to perform energetic country selections such as "Now" (off his second album "See You Tonight" album) and his 2011 hit "The Trouble With Girls," but the 21-year-old North Carolina native impressed most with a heartfelt tribute to Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Alabama with a sure-fire medley of "Mama Tried," "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Mountain Music."

Opening the night was RaeLynn, whose brief 18-minute set reached its zenith with her acoustic-flavored "For a Boy" and the even more infectious "God Made Girls."

Robert Kinsler

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