Vince Gill puts on a show like no one else and Friday, October 25th, his concert in Bakersfield, CA at the Rabobank Arena Theater was no exception! With a top-notch band and no opening act Vince took us on a 3-hour musical journey including his big hits, the songs off his latest album “Bakersfield,” stories that made you laugh and stories that made you cry. Not only is his singing and guitar playing incredible live, but Vince knows how to connect with an audience and THAT makes a show one to remember.
Vince came out and was ready to get the audience pumped up. He kicked things off with “One More Last Chance” and right away you knew this was going to be a good night. After that Vince slipped right into other hits, including “Trying to Get Over You” and “Pocket Full of Gold.” He also played “Real Mean Bottle” which was inspired by the great Merle Haggard and “High Lonesome Sound.” Vince was seemingly just as excited to be in Bakersfield as the audience was to have him. His latest project, “Bakersfield,” is a duet album with famed steel guitar player Paul Franklin. The two teamed up to feature the music of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens while paying homage to the genre-defining Bakersfield Sound.
Vince told the crowd he wanted to play them the whole album (10 songs), which he probably wouldn’t do on any other stop of his tour! This made the audience go wild with cheers and applause. Vince and Paul kicked it off with “Foolin’ Around” and went right into “Branded Man.” In between songs Vince commented on what the music of Merle and Buck meant to him and why he and Paul decided to make the album. Hearing Vince’s pitch perfect voice sing these songs in the city where the music was born was a magical experience for a true country music fan.
Before a brief intermission the mayor of Bakersfield, Harvey Hall, came out on stage. He spoke about how honored he was to have Vince and Paul in town singing the songs off the “Bakersfield” album and gave both men a key to the city! This was a terrific honor for two musicians who love the town and the music so much. Before leaving the stage for the intermission, in true Vince fashion, he jokingly said while holding up his key, “I’m going to see if this thing works!”
After the intermission Vince came out with just his guitar, sense of humor and some stories to share with the crowd. While you are in an arena full of people Vince makes you feel like you are in his living room just swapping stories about family. Vince, who is from Oklahoma, talked about his memories of Route 66 and shared about his brother’s hard journey through life. He sang “Lucky Diamond Motel” and the spiritual “Bread and Water.” Afterwards he went into a little bit about his father. If you have never been to a live Vince show, you must go! Not only is the music superb, but Vince is a bit of a comedian! He usually has the crowd in stitches imitating his dad’s voice and cigarette smoking! He told a few stories and then shared the song “The Key,” which was inspired by his dad’s passing.
As promised, Vince and the band then continued playing songs off “Bakersfield,” from Buck’s “Nobody’s Fool But Yours” to Merle’s “Fightin’ Side of Me,” which Vince dedicated to anyone who had served in the military. Throughout all the songs watching Paul Franklin work that steel guitar was mesmerizing. The man is truly a master of the instrument and hearing him play live is a treat.
Vince and the band continued on with more great music kicking up the tempo a bit with songs like “Next Big Thing” and “Sweet Thing.” These give Vince a chance to show just a glimpse of his amazing guitar skills. The extended guitar solo he did on “Sweet Thing” had people standing up and cheering at the end. After a few more hits Vince said goodnight only to be given a standing ovation from fans wanting just a few more! The singer came right back out and gave us two more songs, ending the night with the audience clapping and singing along to “Liza Jane.”
This was a terrific night of truly great music played and sung by the finest musicians around. Vince talks a lot about his dad and the influence he had on him. In the song “The Key” that Vince wrote about his dad there is a line that says, “He said it’s all for nothing if you don’t stay the same.” Well Vince has stayed the same…he took his dad’s advice to heart. He is down to earth, kind and has never let his talent go to his head. He is the real deal and that shows on stage.
I also was lucky enough to see Vince’s show Sunday night, October 27th, in Carmel, CA. There he also put on an almost 3 hour show packed full of songs and stories. The audience here was also VERY engaged in Vince’s performance, giving him a few standing ovations! Vince appreciated the love he was receiving as he commented toward the end, “This has been a sweet night.” After seeing both of these shows I once again stand firm on the fact Vince Gill is quite simply the best! He puts on a show with substance. There are no fireworks, no dancers, no gimmicks…just great singing, great musicians, heartfelt stories, and a little humor. What else can you ask for? Vince Gill wins Entertainer of the Year in my book…always!
A BIG shout out to Vince’s awesome band too! I have seen Vince many times and he brings along a talented band!
Dawn Sears: Vocals
Pete Wasner: Piano and Keyboard
Stuart Duncan: Fiddle
Billy Thomas: Drums
David Hungate: Bass
Jeff White: Guitar and Vocals
Tom Britt: Guitar
Paul Franklin: Steel Guitar
Also a big shout out to Benny Garcia who is Vince’s long time friend and Guitar Tech who brings Vince guitars throughout the night. He does a great job!
To find out if Vince Gill might be headed to a city near you check out www.vincegill.com.
“Bakersfield” is available NOW! You can sample the album below!
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