Concert Review: McGraw Magnificent In Mountain View
“We’ve got one rule; the louder you get, the longer we play. That’s the way we do it!”
– Tim McGraw
A rowdy crowd of more than 22,500 loyal Tim McGraw fans stood on their feet for over two hours as the master showman entertained them with a blend of old and new material from his multi-platinum, 20-year catalog and an anticipated new release coming this September. Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater (Saturday, May 10) was the third stop on the country icon’s 2014 Sundown Heaven Town tour.
Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” blasted through the PA system as the house lights dimmed. When the song faded, pulsating lights matched a heartbeat rhythm, as silhouetted black and whites images of McGraw projected on screens on and around the stage. Escorted by several burly bodyguards, the country music icon made his way down the steps to the stage, high-fiving fans along the way. He joined his eight-piece band, as the audience screamed with excitement.
The singer opened with “One Of Those Nights,” wearing his own Tim McGraw hoodie, but by the time “Mexicoma” came around, he tossed the hoodie out to a lucky fan, and revealed his lean and buff physique. Sporting a grey ribbed tank top, his trademark black cowboy hat, and faded torn tight blue jeans, he connected immediately with his devoted female followers. The 47 year-old seasoned veteran demonstrated the stamina of someone half his age as he rolled through 27 songs, five of which were the encore.
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The only glitch came about 90 minutes into the concert when a slide show of his three young daughters and wife Faith Hill failed to appear on the giant video screens. The superstar started a solo acoustic version of “You Are So Beautiful,” but the screens remained black. After only the first line of the song, McGraw stopped and told the crowd in a frustrated voice, “This is the second night in a row that we’re supposed to have a video playin’ up here. I’m gonna wait until the first scene pops up, and then I’ll sing, otherwise somebody’s flyin’ home tonight.” With his back to the crowd, McGraw stared at the blank screens for a full two minutes while unexplainable feedback pierced the audience’s ears. “I guess somebody is flying home tonight,” he said just before he attempted the song a second time. The video finally kicked in and the crowd pointed at the screen for McGraw to notice, but his tender family moment had passed.
McGraw recovered gracefully with a brand new song called “The View, ” and continued to deliver, including his signature ballad “Live Like You Were Dying” that ended the encore. The country celebrity will visit 30 cities before wrapping up in Houston in August.
Cassadee Pope, the petite 23 year-old singer with a powerful voice, opened the evening’s entertainment with a short 20-minute set that featured her Billboard hit “Wasting All These Tears.” Kip Moore followed with hard-rockin’ tunes reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd at times, especially when More lined up with other band members, forming a quartet of guitars. The Tifton, Georgia, singer/songwriter revved up the crowd with the reminder, “Hey, it’s Saturday night. It’s time to let your hair down, ‘cause I know you ain’t got shit to do tomorrow.”
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Live country music’s popularity continues to grow at the Shoreline Amphitheater. Only a few years ago, they were only doing six country shows per season, and this year stands at ten. If more sold out concerts like McGraw’s happen, that number will surely double.
Tim McGraw’s set list for Saturday May 10, 2014: One Of Those Nights; Real Good Man; I Like It, I Love It; Southern Voice; Red Ragtop; Mexicoma; Down on the Farm; Southern Girl; Just to See You Smile; Better Than I Used to Be; Lookin’ For That Girl; Please. Remember Me; Back When; Keep on Truckin; Meanwhile Back At Mama’s; You Are So Beautiful; The View; Highway Don’t Care; City Lights; Where the Green Grass Grows; Two Lanes Of Freedom; Indian Outlaw (with parts of Indian Reservation).
Encore: The Cowboy in Me; Truck Yeah; Something Like That; Felt Good on My Lips; Live Like You Were Dying.
Denny Hemingson – electric & steel guitar, musical director
Deano Brown – fiddle, acoustic guitar, piano, background vocals
Paul Bushnell – bass, background vocals
David Levita – electric guitar
Bob Minner – acoustic guitar, banjo
Billy Nobel – keyboards, background vocals
Adam Shoenfeld – electric guitar
Shawn Fichter – drums
Steve Roby is a music journalist/photographer whose work has appeared in Billboard, Rolling Stone and Guitar World. Steve can be reached at email@example.com