- June 10, 2011

Clint Black and crew showed us what 20 years of hard work'll get ya - great country music!

CLINT BLACK 1/31/10 Isleta Casino & Resort, Albuquerque, NM

With a name like Clint Black, it might’ve seemed a foregone conclusion he’d have a career in country music – and what a career it’s been.  Billed as a strictly “greatest hits” show (his new CD is still being recorded, and the band hasn’t rehearsed the new songs yet), Clint Black and his band gave us quite a run-through of highlights from the last 20 years.

Aside from near-perfect renditions of hits like “A Better Man,” “Killin’ Time,” “Nothin’ But the Taillights,” “State of Mind,” “One More Payment,” and “The Shoes You’re Wearing,” Black proved himself quite the charmer, cracking jokes and somehow making the cavernous showroom seem like an intimate club.  He even stopped the show long enough to pose for a few front-row photo takers and seemed quite gracious about it, considering most performers have impromptu photo snappers ejected.

Hayden Nicholas is still Black’s lead guitarist and chief co-songwriter, and he threw in a few blazing licks to prove they weren’t just doing things by the book.  Black announced that one of the songs they co-wrote – 1993’s “Tuckered Out”- contained 38 instances of country name-dropping, though I was only able to count 17 as the song sped by me like a bullet train.

Since it was billed as a “greatest hits” show, I was surprised and delighted that they played several cover songs.  The first of these was a solo acoustic rendition of Willie Nelson’s “Time of the Preacher” so spot on, I couldn’t tell whether or not Black was lip-synching until the end when he added his own vocal calisthenics to close the number.  The song was accompanied by an amusing story about once being invited onto Nelson’s tour bus - where he was “apparently burning toast” - which left Black quite light-headed.

Another surprise for me (because I’ve apparently never listened to Black’s 1999 release “D’Lectrified”), was Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song,” slightly sanitized for our protection, but still good for a laugh.

The “I can’t believe it” moment came midway through the encore, when Black took a turn at the drum kit, leaving guitarist/saxophonist Bryan Austin to lead the band through Steely Dan’s 1978 single “Josie.”  Yes, a country band doing Steely Dan.  Who’da thunk it?  “Not I,” said the duck.

They finished with a heartbreaking read of The Eagles’ “Desperado,” Black once again adding a few baroque vocal flourishes to ensure me he wasn’t lip-synching, and that was all she wrote.  Almost exactly 90 minutes long (including encore), and I’m sure we would’ve sat for 90 more.  Clint Black is still one of the wittiest, cleverest, and most charismatic artists in country music.

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Originally posted by Uncle Jesse on Monday February 1st, 2010