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Jason Aldean At Madison Square Garden, Saturday, March 2nd 2013, Reviewed

I got to MSG at 745pm,  out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels, and still managed to miss Thomas Rhett. Rhett is the brains (if that's the word) behind "Beer With Jesus" -the embodiment of every red neck joke you've ever read and I really really wanted to hear it live.

And if that wasn't bad enough, what I did see was alright. I coulda been really mean about this lot!  Second opener Jake Owens has pretty good songs and Jason Aldean is mostly shitkicker country blues which gets late early on record but has enough sinew to put out like the E Street Band as Southern meatheads or Tom Petty's Heartbreakers if they were raised a little further South of Florida. And, again, if Tom Petty lacked not soul but depth.

However, if this lack makes both Jake and Jason only as good as any given song on record, on stage it's a different story. Jason mentions he has been on the stage without a break since 2005 and the result of this Protestant work ethic has been a crossover album 2010's My Kinda Party with its Ludacris rap on "Dirt Road Anthem"  and a not unsuccessful follow up, Night Train, an instantaneous sell out of MSG and an incautious sense of self on stage which fills an arena easy to get lost in.  I've seen rock bands like the Black Keys and Kings Of Leon fail to signify, both Jake and Jason are up to the task.

Jake played a set where all the bloat was in its length. If he had trimmed 15 minutes and finished with the excellent singalong dream hit "Barefoot Blue Jean Night", like "Summer Jam" a nod to hot August  unimaginable in the face of a cold and nasty winter. "Summer Jam" was recorded with one of my fave young country bands, Florida Georgia Line, The song sounds like a country LFO and with the likes of "I wanna spin you like a record…" the lyric is  alright with me.

Jason is a bit too loud, like so many rap bands at MSG, the bass drowns the hooks… what there are of them. But it is a well paced, well sung, pleasant as hell snap shot of a  modern serious country star. Those country boys have bored me to death for years now but give Jason this: he knows how to work a very big room and he knows how to sell "They think New Yorkers hate country music, but when I get back home next week I'm gonna tell them that's BULLSHIT" and make it stick like glue to you.

The hits hit good, "Big Green Tractor" is masterful  and "Dirt Road Anthem" a major singalong, than he does the impossible and doesn't embarrasses himself dueting with a video taped Kelly Clarkson on "Won't You Say".. He saves "Night Train" and "1994" from the latest album. And is a capable and smart band leader.

But the quote that I started this review with, "the truckers and the kickers and cowboy angels"? That's by Gram Parsons,  the one who started this shit and really these guys can't compare in any way at all. I've spent years suffering through crappy country boys singing terrible songs. This was a good show but a lousy genre. 

Grade: B

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