As a country chart-topper more than 20 times over and beloved co-star of “The Voice,” Blake Shelton can sell out a show in about the time it takes for him to flip around in the coach’s chair. Add in the fact that the Chicago-area stop of his “Doing It To Country Songs” Tour fell on St. Patrick’s Day, and the full-capacity crowd at the Allstate Arena not only turned up sporting a multitude of shamrock-adorned accessories, but were ramping up to party from the moment they pulled into the parking lot.
By the time honky-tonk hat tip “Boys ‘Round Here” rolled into view, attendees needed no convincing of his ability to entertain or make a bar-crawler’s favorite holiday more memorable than usual.
And for two solid hours and at least couple dozen songs, the musician/TV star unfurled exactly the soundtrack that was expected and then some. There were songs centered around “Sangria,” “Some Beach,” and of course, a chance to “Drink On It,” accompanied by a slick six-piece band, background vocalist and countless toasts by Shelton with his trusty “BS” cup.
All the while, the singer and sometimes guitarist displayed an enviable voice that equally knew its way around more rugged terrain (“All About Tonight,” “Honey Bee”) as its sweeter side (“Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,” “Home”). With just his pipes and an acoustic six-string, Shelton also managed to hold the rowdy crowd’s attention during a solo acoustic set of several older selections, most notably, his inaugural smash “Austin.”
Yet for all of his strengths, Shelton’s shtick of being just a regular guy ready to raise some hell wasn’t entirely believable and the banter between songs appeared a little too scripted. For instance, prior to “A Guy With A Girl,” he vaguely pointed to an unspecified bro with a hot girl and teased how everybody probably looks straight past him at her (cheekily referencing his relationship with fellow superstar Gwen Stefani), though it was a generic enough joke to be recycled verbatim every night.
The same goes for his “Voice”-styled critique of the crowd following “She’s Got A Way With Words,” which included some praises, but ultimately an accusation that this audience from metropolitan communities such as Rosemont, Schaumburg and Naperville were too hillbilly, ever so conveniently setting up “Hillbilly Bone.” And if Shelton really was drinking constantly (despite not regularly getting a refill), he held his liquor much better than the tipsy throngs who clamored to slap his hand as he frequently strolled the runway, picking up beads and a green hat along the way.
No, this isn’t an artist who seems to engage in genuine dialogue or plucks out a random song on a sign like say a Garth Brooks, but Shelton is nonetheless a game-changer of sorts in his own right who’s juggling two prominent careers that maintain multi-generational appeal. And by the time honky-tonk hat tip “Boys ‘Round Here” rolled into view (with opener/“The Voice” discovery RaeLynn), attendees needed no convincing of his ability to entertain or make a bar-crawler’s favorite holiday more memorable than usual.
Click here for more Blake Shelton photos from the Allstate Arena.
For additional information on Blake Shelton, visit BlakeShelton.com.
For a list of upcoming shows at the Allstate Arena, visit Rosemont.com/Allstate/.