After more than a week of 100-plus-degree temperatures in Middle Tennessee, fans were happy to dance in the rain Sunday night
(July 8) as Gary Allan closed out the final show of the 2012 Country Throwdown
tour at the Woods Amphitheater in Nashville.
The concert had to be shut down a half-hour early as thunderstorms approached
and a downpour broke out in the middle of Allan’s set, but after a full day of eclectic country performers, no one minded
the refreshing cooler weather.
“Bring me my acoustic guitar,” Allan demanded as he made the announcement that only
one more song would be played. “I want to do ‘Songs About Rain.’
That seems like the right one.”
The rowdiest cheer of the night went up with that as some fans scattered for cover
and the heartiest of them all moved forward to press against the soaking-wet stage.
Allan says the Throwdown tour has
been an event unlike most as it brings three separate stages on the road and a host of interesting entertainers for a mini-festival
“Usually you’ve got one stage and a couple of big acts,” said Allan in an interview with CMT.com before
the show. “On this, you’ve got three stages, and these guys just picked [performers] they liked.”
He went on to praise
the artists on the tour, saying each was an especially strong performer — something the Throwdown prides itself on.
original lineup boasted Allan, Rodney Atkins, Justin
Moore, Josh Thompson, Corey
Smith and Sunny Sweeney along with a boatload of up-and-coming artists
on side stages. But since this was the last stop, only Allan, Smith and Sweeney remained for the headliner’s stage.
was a very different approach,” Allan said. “The result is it was a lot of fun. There’s a lot of camaraderie and a lot of
interaction. There’s a barbecue every night, and it just seems like everybody’s out partying with each other.”
party atmosphere extended into the crowd as Allan took the stage just after dark. With lightning flashing in the distance,
the scene was perfect for his moody California country style.
Arriving to the sounds of a helicopter over the speaker
system, Allan appeared onstage dressed in tight jeans and a brown leather jacket to the opening strains of “Watching
Airplanes” and immediately began pacing the stage and slapping hands with fans in the front row.
The jacket was
soon torn off to the delight of the ladies in attendance, and Allan moved into a passionate rendition of “Man
He soon settled down into a slow burning pace and delivered an hour-long set filled with hits like “Nothin’
on but the Radio,” “Man to Man” and “She’s So California.”
“This is my home show now,” Allan remarked from the stage.
“I think I know more people here than in California” he said, adding that it just means he has more friends to disappoint
when he doesn’t have time to get together on short trips like this.
“It Would Be You” and “A Feeling Like That” followed
in a frenzy of strobe lights and steel guitar before Allan brought the crowd to an emotional peak with a touching version
of “Best I Ever Had.”
Without prompting, the audience
broke into song at the end, singing the entire last chorus as Allan looked on in amazement.
As the rain started to
fall, he sat down cross-legged in the center of the stage and delivered the fitting “Life
Ain’t Always Beautiful.” At first, it was only a sprinkle and most of the crowd just doubled down on refreshments. But
by the end of the song, the skies had opened up in a full, drenching rain.
Crew members hustled to cover amplifiers
as some of the audience left for their cars, but Allan stood firm and reassured those determined to stick it out.
like we’re gonna get a little wet together,” he teased amid a round of catcalls. “I like it.”
He offered up “Like
It’s a Bad Thing” and “Runaway” with no sign of easing from the rain, and within 15 minutes, the entire seating area had turned
into a slippery, sloped mud pit.
“Learning How to Bend”
became the last song before concert officials gave Allan the word that he had to stop because of concerns about lightning
and high winds. The rain didn’t seem to be much of a bother for this crowd.
It was a good call, though, since no sooner
did cars start leaving the parking lot than the real storm hit, throwing sheets of water sideways through the night amid bright
flashes of electricity overhead.
It was a fitting end to such an electrically-charged tour.
Earlier in the day,
Sweeney delighted the still-relatively-dry crowd with toasts to cold American beer and classic-sounding cheating songs. “From a Table Away” and “Staying’s
Worse Than Leaving” were standouts for the sweet Texan.
Smith, a Georgia boy, followed in the early evening with
a fun-loving set that showed off his roots as a mainstay around the college bar scene. His believable songs about frat antics,
baseball games and booze riled the crowd up, especially his popular hit, “Twenty-One.”
Bluebird stage gave up-and-coming songwriters Rose Falcon, Carly Pearce, Jonathan Singleton and Channing Wilson the opportunity
to share their craft in a guitar-pull setting where the participants sat onstage together and took turns singing their original
material. They were also afforded a few songs on the main stage in between sets, as was Mama’s Blue Dress, a likeable all-female
string band quartet.
With a job well done and the tour over, there was only one thing left to do for the performers.
As Allan said with a smile before the show, “I’m gonna get hammered with my friends!”