(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of
With all of Blake Shelton‘s relentless
tweeting, his wildly popular role on The Voice, and his marriage to Miranda Lambert, sometimes it’s easy to overlook
that under all of that pop culture notoriety is an outstanding country singer with more than a decade of hits under his belt.
Fortunately for Shelton’s longtime fans, he still knows how to pull off all those hits in a live show. He hasn’t forgotten
to dance with the ones who brought him.
At an album release show at Joe’s Bar in Chicago on Friday afternoon (March
29) — and, according to Shelton, a day that had just been declared Blake Shelton Day by Illinois Gov Pat Quinn — he actually
only did one song from the new album, Based on a True Story … . Why? Because he said he was tired of promoting the
“You know what I’d like to do,” he asked the crowd of about 1,000. “I’ve been kind of missing my old stuff,
so if it’s OK with y’all, I’d like to play some of them early ones.” So after opening with “Drink on It,” he went straight
into a trilogy from the early 2000s: “Nobody but Me,” “Austin” and “Ol’ Red.” And he did it all alone — with no backing band
and nothing more than his guitar.
After taking a few requests for the real oldies, Shelton said, “Y’all know who my
wife is? I hate to tell you she’s not here because I don’t want you to leave.” Then he launched into the story about he and
Miranda Lambert wrote her hit single “Over You” on his tour bus.
He sang the moving song about his brother who died in a car accident but didn’t shed a tear like Lambert usually does
when she sings that one live. All he said was, “That was kind of a downer.” He chatted easily with the crowd about the ridiculous
songs he’s made (“Some Beach”), the ones about dudes hitting on women (“Sure Be Cool If You Did”) and the ones that were exactly
what he needed to hear because they were exactly what he was going through (“God Gave Me You”).
The show only lasted
an hour. The crowd was packed with more guys than girls and more ball caps than cowboy hats. And the 13-song playlist was
more classic Shelton than new Shelton. But hearing the songs that paved the way for his journey to a new kind of celebrity
was the perfect reminder of why he’s a solid country treasure.