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Concert Reviews:
Pranks a-plenty as Darius Rucker closes tour at DTE

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Music took a (nearly) back seat to mirth on Sunday night, June 30, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

As the closing night of Darius Rucker's first headlining North American tour, with opening acts Rodney Atkins and Rochester Adams High School grad Jana Kramer, it was open season for the three acts to play pranks on each other during their respective sets. Rucker himself stayed somewhat above -- but not immune to -- the fray, telling the crowd that "if weird stuff happens, I'm sorry." But he really didn't have to apologize, as the hijinks made for a special night and managed to be pulled off without adversely affecting the music.

The fun began early as Kramer -- whose request to not be pranked in front of her home town crowd clearly fell on deaf ears -- found herself showered in feathers from above the stage as she sang "One of the Boys." Later, members of Rucker's and Atkins' band joined Kramer's group on stage, playing Corn Hole and offering their compatriots shots of whiskey. Atkins, who sported a Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander jersey, kept his composure as Kramer walked a dog across the stage during his set, and then was invaded by an Assassin-style battle while he played "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)."

Former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Rucker and his Carolina Greyboys, at least got more than halfway through their nearly 90-minute set before Rucker's and Atkins' sons began riding bicyles and scooters across the stage. Rucker was particularly impressed when Kramer and her band donned giant hand outfits, dancing around the stage (with more whiskey bottles) as Rucker and company performed the Hootie hit "Hold My Hand" -- "Y'all really did some planning. That was awesome!" he declared -- while Atkins and Kramer came on sporting beards for a rowdy version of Hank Williams Jr.'s "Family Tradition."

Amidst all this, Rucker also paid frequent tribute to what he referred to as Pine Knob, calling it "one of my favorite buildings in the world" and dedicating another Hootie song, "Only Wanna Be With You" to the fans on the lawn. The bulk of his 18-song set, however, hailed from his three No. 1 country albums -- with five from this year's "True Believers" -- along with covers of the Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" and a show-closing rendition of Prince's "Purple Rain," though the latter, positioned after his chart-topping cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel," served as more of a fan exodus than a finale.

Still, everyone left DTE with a smile on their face Sunday -- most of all the celebratory musicians.

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