A near-capacity crowd at the Cain’s Ballroom was treated to an exciting evening of country music Thursday night as Rodney Atkins came to town with a bag full of hits and a few friends. A long line formed outside the front door nearly one hour before the doors opened to the public. Once the crowd made it’s way out of the heat and into the cozy confines of the Cain’s, they were met with three solid sets of music lasting late into the night.
Steel Magnolia started things off with an entertaining abbreviated set that featured the vocal talents of Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones. Linsey and Jones sang their songs duet style and played well off of each other throughout the set.
Danny Gokey, who got his start from American Idol, was up next. Gokey energized the crowd with a cover-heavy set that included Bon Jovi’s "Livin’ on a Prayer" and Rascal Flats’ cover of Tom Cochrane’s "Life is a Highway."
After a short intermission the stage was set for Atkins. Two LED screens flanked the drum kit that was screened in front by three glass panels. Atkins hit the stage and immediately launched into his most recent number one hit "It’s America."
He followed with "About the South" before he took a moment to great the crowd. "There’s no place like Oklahoma," he said. "The home of Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Micky Mantle and Johnny Bench!"
He then professed his love for Major League Baseball by removing his button up shirt to reveal a blue t-shirt with an over-sized MLB logo. Continuing with his set, Atkins danced around the stage, moving from one side to the other slapping hands in the front row. He promised a high-energy show, and it was clear at this point that he would deliver.
Atkins’ current single, "Farmer’s Daughter" was met with a loud roar from the crowd who sang along with each word. His set also included "Cleaning This Gun" and "Friends With Tractors," along with a few covers.
Slowing down and grabbing his acoustic guitar, Atkins asked the crowd if they wanted to hear the first song he ever sang on stage. The crowd, which responded with applause, broke into laughter when Atkins started into the opening verse of "Low" by Flo Rida. Atkins laughed along with them, saying "no, that wasn’t the song."
The crowd went wild when Atkins began to sing "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" by Garth Brooks. Atkins continued with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" and nearly brought the house down when Joshua Scott Jones of Steel Magnolia made his way back on stage to help Atkins sing Charlie Daniels’ "Long Haired Country Boy."
The giant LED screens flashed images of Daniels, Brooks, Chris LeDoux, Dale Earnhardt, Bear Bryant and several other Southern legends while Atkins sang "Tell A Country Boy." He then finished up his set with "Watching You," which sent him off the stage to wild cheering from the audience.
Atkins returned to play "If You’re Going Through Hell" for an encore, once again working the crowd throughout the song. He went from one side of the stage to the other, tossing the microphone into the crowd several times and asking audience members to sing along.
Photos by: Casey Hanson
Once the music stopped and the house lights came up, Atkins remained on stage to greet fans and sign autographs. It was a scene that unfortunately has become way too rare in the world of entertainment. At that point it became clear that Atkins is a rare class act. But then again, would one expect any less from a country boy?