Sandy • Aided by an electrifying opening set from the under-rated Jake Owen as well as one of the best backing bands in any genre, Jason Aldean delivered a solid, entertaining country-rock set Saturday night with a potent emphasis on the rock part of that tandem.
Two years ago at the Maverik Center, the 36-year-old Georgian seemed a little flat, but that might have been because expectations were so high after roping multiple high-profile awards from the myriad country music associations. Saturday, Aldean was more animated (with his surprisingly high-pitched talking voice) and connected more with the crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium, which appeared to be far from sold-out, but still healthily loud. Two years ago, Aldean was statuesque; Saturday, he moved around more in his denim shirt and jeans in the thankfully mild temperatures.
But Aldean's appeal is not tied to gimmicks. Like Bob Dylan, who performs this coming week at Usana Amphitheatre, the key to Aldean's success as a live act is not because he is a gregarious butt-kisser, but because the song is king. Aldean sings with conviction, and his believability even though he no longer pens his own songs comes through. Like Dylan, he won't high kick onstage and act like a clown who is forcing it. But the songs will kick you in the gut, and his stage design was simple; aside from eight impressive rotating hi-res screens up in the rafters, the stage was lined with a phalanx of amps for music first and only.