Blake Shelton worried about the title.
After the first 10 songs of his latest “Friends & Heroes” tour at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Saturday, Shelton stepped off the stage and a country music veteran John Anderson emerged from below. There was an instant surge of energy from the near-capacity crowd, as Anderson, along with Shelton’s seven-piece band, hummed through a soft “Seminole Wind,” followed by a loud “Money in. the Bank “and the boot-scootin ‘” Swingin’ “, all country hits from the 80s and 90s.
And Shelton, half-joking, was just a little jealous.
“Why are you all acting so differently for John Anderson?” Shelton asked. “I’ve been here 40 minutes, and all of a sudden John Anderson comes in here and the whole damn crowd …
“The last thing I need is to wake up tomorrow morning and read the Wisconsin Post or whatever you’ve got here, and the headline says something like ‘John Anderson Steals the Show,’” Shelton continued.
Here at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, we ignore title suggestions from people we write about. But it wouldn’t have been a fitting title anyway – because Anderson wasn’t the only one stealing the show from Shelton.
And that’s the beauty of Shelton’s “Friends & Heroes” tour concept, which has been around for a few years but stopped in Milwaukee for the first time on Saturday.
It gives Shelton a chance to share his cutting edge band and packed halls with veteran country stars who prove they still have the merchandise and are still loved.
Saturday this included Martina McBride, who, with her bubbly voice, brightened up the night with the self-confident gems of “My Baby Loves Me” and “This one’s for Girls”, before ending with the upsetting and soaring “A Broken Wing”.
And the show also included Tracy Byrd, which actually got the strongest reaction of the three “Friends & Heroes” on Saturday. He made the most of the runway, tilting his black cowboy hat and waving to any fans he could reach, rocking the crowd with his magnetic stage presence and his party debut of the 90s and early years. “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”, “I’m from the Country” and “Watermelon Crawl”.
“Over and over again tonight I got those other singers’ asses coming up,” Shelton said towards the end of the show.
Shelton was of course selling short.
While the three guests were undisputed highlights on Saturday, they only played 10 minutes each. Shelton, meanwhile, was on stage for the remaining two hours and 30 minutes of the show, struggling to keep his early-evening promise to play “the longest country gig.” (Eric Church regularly does three-hour sets, but it was an impressive marathon nonetheless.)
With the charm and charisma that made him such a winning personality on NBC’s “The Voice” for 21 seasons, Shelton easily slipped into various characters on Saturday night, for the raucous “Boys’ Round Here” duo. moon-eyed “Nobody But You” (which he sang in front of footage of his new wife Gwen Stefani singing back to him), or the outlaw-tasting “God’s Country” and the George Jones classic “Ol ‘Red”.
There was also a lot of fun crowd interactions. Locking a guy’s eyes in the front row for the love ballad “Sure Be Cool If You Did”, Shelton chuckled in the middle of the song, telling him, “Sing for her, not for me,” pointing to the date. you human. And for “Hillbilly Bone”, Shelton let himself be eclipsed again, this time for a heated duel between the guitarist Beau Tackett and the violinist Jenee Fleenor, the first woman to win the CMA Musician of the Year Award.
Shelton was happy to co-star, but after the performance he faked a bruised ego, and for the highlight of the night, invited Anderson, Byrd and McBride to join him for an author circle session. – composers to see which of them had the greatest country song. (He also suggested that George Strait, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, and Luke Combs would be the judges… although they were going to stay behind the scenes.)
“How many of you think that if this was the ‘Who speaks the most (expletive) Friends & Heroes tour’ tour contest, we would already have our winner?” Byrd said, pointing to Shelton, another case of the eclipsed headliner Saturday, for the funniest line of the night.
Shelton did his rendition of “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” solo on acoustic guitar, suggesting that the lines “When you get undressed, do you leave a way / Then sink your nose in a bubble bath “were about Anderson.
After the performance, Shelton did a little moonwalk victory dance, then playfully suggested that they end the competition. But Byrd wouldn’t have wanted it, triggering a big vocals for a beaming “The Keeper of the Stars”, followed by Anderson performing “Straight Tequila Night” (both with backing from Shelton’s band members). But it was clear to both fans and musicians that McBride had won this little contest with “Independence Day”.
As they all left the stage, Shelton ended the act of jealousy, saying a few kind words about how these three musicians inspired Shelton as he made his own rise in the world of country music.
“They’re Hall of Fame members… you’ll never see something like this again,” Shelton said. “My heroes, man, your heroes, man. They’re all country music icons.”
And the Saturday show suggested there was a track that Shelton will one day wake up to: “Blake Shelton Inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame.”
- Saturday marked the second proposal for as many concerts in as many months at the Fiserv Forum, following a proposal during Michael Bublé show in September. On Saturday Shelton caught a guy in the front row kneeling between songs. She said yes, Shelton asked for the spotlight to be on the newly engaged couple, and they hugged for much of the upcoming issue, “A Guy With a Girl.” “It was the coolest intro for a song I’ve ever had,” Shelton told them. “Do you want a job? It was perfect timing.
- Shelton threw guitar picks all night at fans in the pit for keepsakes, but with the help of security, he was able to personally give an elderly fan and a young girl a pick in the closing number. ” God Gave Me You “.
- Shelton had a team of camera operators to capture his performance of “Came Back as a Country Boy,” his latest single, which was released on country radio on Monday. Shelton said the images will be used for a music video.
- At every stop on his Friends & Heroes tour, Shelton hailed a local hero. In Milwaukee on Saturday it was Caitlin Cullen, owner of Tandem, which distributed 115,000 free meals to people in need during the pandemic. Cullen received an award for the tour and front row seats.
- With the Milwaukee date pushed back a year due to the pandemic, Lauren Alaina dropped out of the tour and Canadian country artist Lindsay Ell took her place. More than fair trade if you ask me, mainly because the very talented Alaina is already well known – popular enough to compete on “Dancing With the Stars” and star in a Hallmark movie last month. Ell, on the other hand, undoubtedly won over new fans on Saturday with clever tunes like the confident kiss “Want Me Back”, which was seasoned, like all of the songs on the half-hour set. ‘Ell, with her soft, sizzling blues. guitar hits.
Blake Shelton’s setlist
1. “Neon light”
2. “Everything about tonight”
3. “Do what she likes”
4. “She wouldn’t have left”
6. “The more I drink”
7. “Mine would be you”
8. “A guy with a girl”
9. “Sure, be cool if you did”
John Anderson Set
11. “Wind Seminole”
12. “Money in the bank”
13. “Swingin ‘”
15. “Home” (cover by Michael Bublé)
16. “The boys are here”
17. “Come back as a country boy”
18. “I will name the dogs”
Martina McBride set
19. “My baby loves me”
20. “This one is for girls”
21. “A broken wing”
22. “Drink on it”
23. “A bit of the beach”
24. “Ol ‘Red” (George Jones cover)
25. “Happy anywhere”
26. “No one other than you”
27. “The land of God”
Tracy Byrd Set
28. “Ten rounds with Jose Cuervo” (Tracy Byrd)
29. “I’m from the country” (Tracy Byrd)
30. “Exploring the Watermelon” (Tracy Byrd)
31. “Very good”
32. “Hillbilly Bone”
Shelton, McBride, Byrd, Anderson on stage together
33. “Who are you when I’m not looking” (Shelton)
34. “The Star Guardian” (Byrd)
35. “Straight Tequila Night” (Anderson)
36. “Independence Day” (McBride)
38. “God Gave Me You” (cover by Dave Barnes)
Piet also talks about concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Evan Rytlewski. Listen to it at 8 p.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9) or wherever you get your podcasts.