WEST VALLEY CITY After a bit of a lukewarm start, mega-country star Tim McGraw had a sold-out crowd on its feet Friday night, clapping and screaming during a red-hot performance at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City.
He started his set with "Still," a new song from a yet-to-be released album, and then continued with "Unbroken" and "Back When."
The first three songs seemed a little stiff, as if McGraw was tired. They lacked the passion and energy of songs sung by openers Halfway to Hazard and Jason Aldean.
But his fourth song, "Last Dollar," got the crowd on its feet, and by the time he got to "Green Grass Grows," McGraw seemed to have relaxed, shaking hands with people in the audience and flirting with the crowd. Fortunately, he didn't pull any rowdy fans out of the audience like he did during a show in Washington state about a week ago. The incident has been widely published on YouTube.
A highlight of his Utah show came when he sang "Indian Outlaw," a spirited song released in 1994 and one of his top 10 singles. His touring band, the Dancehall Doctors, and band leader Darren Smith had some skillful solos with fastfingering that helped spike up the energy at USANA.
McGraw then threw in a few more songs from a yet-to-be released album, including the soulful and patriotic "Southern Voice." A rendition of "Between the River and Me," from his new album "Let It Go" was well-sung and beautifully played but told a slightly eerie musical story.
"Can you feel the spirit of country music moving you this evening?" McGraw asked the screaming crowd toward the end of his show.
His opening acts, Halfway to Hazard and Aldean, rousingly kicked off the evening with playful and crowd-pleasing acts. Halfway to Hazard is a relatively new act and has an album co-produced by McGraw. The band played a few cover songs and then jumped into a playful rendition of "Daisy," its first song on the air.
Aldean flirted with the crowed and fired them up with popular songs such as "Restless" and "Amarillo Sky."All in all, it was a high-energy musical thrill ride, with only a mildly tepid start by McGraw.