Over the Saginaw River and through the hood more than 7,000 country rock fans travelled to the Dow Event Center last Thursday night to see Brantley Gilbert’s Blackout Tour. This monstrous tour promoting his latest album Just As I Am -Platinum Edition began last November in Amsterdam. The tour then moved onto Germany, Scotland and England. Saginaw was his first date back home in the U.S. but before he finishes the tour in April, he’ll have played in Canada and he’ll even take some “Small Town Throwdown” to Australia too. Brantley is joined on the tour by Canaan Smith and Michael Ray who know how to properly rev up an appreciative crowd. B.G.’s tour features the Bottoms Up VIP experience which includes a pre-show party with cash bar and free appetizers, limited edition merchandise, an exclusive pre-show acoustic performance complete with an up-close and personal Q&A and premium seating for the big show. Participants said this was an incredibly laid-back and intimate encounter with the singer that was well worth the money.
B.G. came out swinging in his “Sturgis ’75” sleeveless t-shirt and heavy-gauge pocket chain with “If you want a Bad Boy”. To this the crowd resoundingly answered with an enthusiastic “Hell Yes” kind of roar. This crew in action is a sight to behold. Among the spectacles are B.G.’s signature brass knuckle microphone, Noah Henson’s guitar-shredding and swinging dreadlocks plus Ben Sims’ (drums) stick-banging bleached out Mohawk. Jess Franklin (band leader / lead guitarist and more) even broke out the slide guitar at one point. The simpatico is electric between these bandmates.
The stage was comprised of a raised drum stage which also held bassist Stephen Lewis and B.J. Golden, multi-instrumentalist. A large screen displayed B.G.’s music video during “Stone Cold Sober” and took us on a reminiscent picture show during “Dirt Road Anthem” of the kind of back roads anyone could relate to outside their own hometown. The drum stage was fronted by a complimentary shorter screen for all the images of flames you could ever ask for. This crowd, in particular, was blessed with photos from Gilbert’s own wedding during “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”. During the bridge, he told us that this was the first time any crowd was seeing these very personal moments, including the just-married couple on his motorcycle. To this he also added, “I’m proud to share my life with each and every one of you”.
If you listen to country music, you can’t escape the hype around one of B.G.’s latest hits “One Hell of an Amen”. He pulled up a stool, sat down his Georgia-born self and as the big screen was transformed into a depiction of a stained glass window, the crowd was engulfed by colored spotlights. B.G. took us to church. He took his hat off and expressed his heart-felt gratitude to all military men and women who serve our country. Brantley Gilbert is one hell of a class act.
B.G. is country music’s rebel with a halo and this crowd couldn’t get enough. A walk around the venue reveals a delicate mix of guys in their best flannel button-ups with cowboy hats or hoodies with baseball caps, as well as leather jacket and boot-clad women all psyched to hear the muscle-bound tattooed crooner flex. So flex he did. In addition to his own cool repertoire accustomed to the crowd, like “Take It Outside”, Brantley also let loose some keen covers. These included Hank William’s “Outlaw Women” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Mr. Saturday Night Special”. B.G. ended the performance with a resounding, “Michigan, you guys are so Bad A$$!”
Brantley has released three studio albums and is a double Platinum artist with song writing credits to two other well-known country singers. He has released sixteen singles and nine music videos. He has been nominated for ten awards and has won “Breakthrough Artist Single of the Year” for “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” in 2012 and “Top New Male Artist” in 2013 from ACAs as well as the “CMS Triple Play Award”.
Saginaw.... Thanks for a great night.... We're just getting started. pic.twitter.com/Rer6ltQeUd
— Brantley Gilbert (@BrantleyGilbert) January 29, 2016