When a friend asked me in July if I wanted to see Alan Jackson last weekend, I knew I couldn’t say no. If country music royalty existed, Alan Jackson would definitely be of that noble heritage, and I almost felt as if I couldn’t call myself a true country fan until I’d seen a legend like him in a live performance setting.
Alan was the headlining act of the Kicks 101.5 Country Fair, put on by one of the major country radio stations in Atlanta, Georgia. The show was held at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia on Saturday, October 6th. Corbette Jackson, Jana Kramer, and Clay Walker also performed.
Because my friend Shelby and I were coming from Athens, we didn’t make it in time to hear Corbette Jackson play. We arrived right after he had finished, and we staked out our spot on the lawn just as Jana Kramer’s gear was being moved onto the stage.
I saw Jana Kramer play as a part of Brad Paisley’s Virtual Reality Tour several weeks ago (I never got around to writing a review– please forgive me), and her set was only the slightest bit different from that performance. She sang several songs from her debut album, including “I Hope It Rains,” “King of Apology,” “One of the Boys,” and of course her first radio hit, “Why Ya Wanna.” She also threw in a few covers of current pop songs and some classic rock. Her set was enjoyable, but the whole time I felt like she was trying harder than was really necessary, and there was almost an unnatural air about her. She was born and raised in Michigan, so I’ll chalk up her lack of relaxation on stage to her non-Southern heritage 😉
Between Jana Kramer and Clay Walker’s sets, some of the on-air personalities from Kicks 101.5 came out on the stage to recognize a Purple Heart recipient. He brought his girlfriend out on stage and gave a heartfelt little speech about how important loved ones are to those who serve in the military. To make a long story short, by the time he walked off the stage, his girlfriend had become his fiancee! It was quite a sweet proposal.
During the lag between the proposal and Clay Walker, Kix Brooks himself came out with just a guitar and sang “Red Dirt Road” as well as one other song. He was sort of an MC for the event, but I’m glad he performed as well.
After what seemed like quite a while, Clay Walker took the stage. I grew up listening to some of Clay’s hits, most notably the catchy, quasi-tropical, “Then What?” He did play that song, as well as a few of his other older songs like “If I Could Make a Living” and “Live, Laugh, Love.” I had forgotten that he also had a few recent hits until he played “Fall” and “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.” One thing I noticed is that he never shied away from difficult melodies and high notes like some artists do when they’re afraid of messing up something that’s on the recorded version of the song; it’s a small thing, but I definitely noticed and gave Clay some mental quality points in my own mind for being fearless. His set was longer than I expected, but the longer duration wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Alan Jackson finally took the stage around 9:15 PM. From the moment he walked out, it was obvious that he was truly just a “Small Town Southern Man” who could play some good country music. Despite his incredible success, his humility was evident throughout his entire performance. He played a good number of his classic hits that are still heard on the radio even today, and I was proud to know almost every word. His band inserted a few riffs and runs here and there to shake things up. The fiddle player introduced “Little Bitty” with a melody that incorporated the Andy Griffith theme, and of course I shed a few tears at the sound of that sweet tribute. Alan played just about every song that was iconic to his career, including “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and “Livin’ On Love,” just to name a few, but he also played more recent hits like “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” and “Good Time.”
The most emotionally intense performance of the night was undoubtedly “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” which beautifully captures the emotions of Americans following September 11th, 2011. I used that particular song in my July 4th post (which you can find here), but there’s nothing that could compare to the haunting emotions that came with Alan’s live performance of the song.
The entire show was most definitely well worth the drive and the fair amount I paid for my lawn seat. I’m so glad I got the chance to see a country legend like Alan Jackson in concert, and it’s not something I will soon forget.
Keep talkin’ twangy!