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Concert Reviews:
Rascal Flattscloses tour, season at DTE

By Gary Graff
Digital First Media/@GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, September 22, 2014

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As the temperatures dipped into the low 50s and fans on the DTE Energy Music Theatre lawn huddles under umbrellas, Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus even noted that, “It seems like every time we come it rains. I’m sorry for that. It’s cold and wet -- but it ain’t gonna stop us.”

DeMarcus and his bandmates, singer Gary LeVox and guitarist Joe Don Rooney, certainly came to play on Sunday night, perhaps harder since it was also the last night of their summer tour (although the pop-leanign country group has a few one-offs scheduled for the coming weeks). And while their vocal harmonies showed some wear and tear from the weeks on the road, the trio and its five-member backing band still came through with a spirited 85-minute jukebox of big hits, material from its latest album, “Rewind” and some surprising covers.

It was certainly enough to help fans forget the weather for awhile, although even the strong performance couldn’t prevent a significant exodus from beginning before the encore started.

Rascal Flatts opened with a bang -- literally, as a big, pyrotechnic boom announced the start of the show as the trio played “Payback” from an elevated platform at the rear of the stage. The three came back to terra firma for “Why Wait,” prowling an extension built of the front of the stage to bring the group closer to fans in a general admission pit area directly in front of them.

“Rewind’s” title track was a cause for celebration as LeVox announced it had just become Rascal Flatts’ 13th No. 1 country single. Other highlights included the group’s hit version of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Bless This Broken Road,” an acapella segment featuring all eight band members on “Love You Out Loud” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and opening act Gloriana’s brief appearance at the end of the Flatts’ take on Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway.” DeMarcus also curried favor by declaring that Detroit is “one of the reasons I’m proud to be an American.”

The group encored with a pyrotechnic-filled “Kickstart My Heart,” its contribution to the recent Motley Crue country tribute set “Nashville Outlaws,” and a lusty rendition of the anthemic “Me and My Gang” which brought its tour (though the group has a few one-offs still on its itinerary), the DTE season and the last night of summer to a satisfying close.

The show’s openers won their own favor on Sunday as well. Gloriana used its short time on stage to preview its forthcoming third album with the songs “Best Night Ever” and “Trouble” before closing the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Sheryl Crow, meanwhile, continued her move into the country market with a headline-worthy set that included hot jams during “Best of Times” and “Can’t Cry Anymore” as well as a “Strong Enough” that she dedicated to Rascal Flatts and a rendition of “Redemption Day” that featured a virtual duet with Johnny Cash, who also recorded the song. And the closing triplet -- a bit of “Picture” that led into “If It Makes You Happy,” a buoyant “Soak Up the Sun” and a tightly grooving “Everyday is a Winding Road” -- was received as enthusiastically as anything Rascal Flatts played during its set.

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