It was a night for the finer-looking country singers at the Palace Thursday night, starring Sara Evans, one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful,” and her opening act, up-and-coming heartthrob Jason Michael Carroll.
From the first song, “Real Fine Place to Start,” Evans moved on the stage like it was her living room.
Comfortable, energized and focused on entertaining, she played a good show, though from measuring the audience’s enthusiasm, you couldn’t tell.
She broke out her hit, “Born to Fly,” on the third song, probably too early, particularly since the energy was already soaring at that point.
The nearly-filled hall took a seat after that song and stayed down until Evans yelled to get back up for “I Keep Looking.” The crowd reluctantly rose, but half couldn’t stay up through the whole song.
Nevertheless, Evans sang, spun and walked the stage like she was having a blast.
She had her two backup singers – both her sisters — join her upfront to sing “Pray for You,” one of four new ones from her recent greatest hits album (the other 10 on the album are actual hits).
Along with talking about her sisters for a while, including announcing the pregnancy of one of them, she also introduced her brother Matt on bass.
She called on the audience to rise again for the foot-stompin’ “Coalmine.”
It was one of her more country tunes — out came the fiddler for this.
Again, most of the crowd took their seat before the song ended.
She kept the country feel going with “Cheatin’.” Her songs can often pass for straight pop — like “As If” and her fun cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” — but her Missouri farm grounding came out for a few, like “Suds in the Bucket.”
We finally got to hear the quality of Evans’ voice, without a wash of decibels around it from the band and her two singers, when she sang the intro and ending to “I Could Not Ask for More.”
More of that would have been a nice reprieve from the all of the other head-on rock tunes.
Even so, the band was good and loose for this type of act, and Evans was on Thursday night. The show came off surprisingly fresh.
For all of Carroll’s good looks and stage coolness, he can sing with a strong country baritone as well as climb an octave or two to create drama.
He arrived just before showtime, he said, and played an impromptu acoustic set that felt brand new and probably brighter than the same old thing he was supposed to play.
He sang some from his first album, “Lookin’ At You,” “Livin’ Our Love Song,” “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead” and the one that gave him a standing ovation, “Alyssa Lies,” prompting a fan to yell, “Take it off!”
With only one album and one on its way, it might not be too long before he’s headlining.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Life and Arts