NEW ORLEANS – It was a night of music that would have any country music fan two-stepping across the room. Country Music Hall of Famer Alan Jackson started early and ended late, giving concert-goers more than they ever could have asked for.
The band walked on stage, jumping right into the music. Moments later, Jackson came out ready to roll. They started with “Gone Country” off the 1994 album Who I Am. The crowd went wild for the 25-year-old hit. Or maybe they were going wild for the handsome, 61-year-old Jackson, who was moving a little slower, but sounded better than ever.
The large screen behind the band showed the original music videos for each song they played, as well as old family photos, likely from Jackson’s personal collection. This included pictures of his three daughters throughout their childhood, and even Jackson’s wedding pictures, dating back to 1979. Seeing Jackson through the ages really put into perspective just how long he has been doing this for.
Jackson and his band performed “Here in the Real World” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” both songs from his first studio album, which was released in 1990 (30 years ago!) Off of his second studio album, Jackson performed “Someday” and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox.”
The set list for this concert was seemingly the perfect mix of happy, sad, insightful, and nostalgic songs. Fast forward to 2003, when Jackson released Greatest Hits Volume II. This album had his longest-lasting number one country hit and biggest pop hit, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”, a duet with Jimmy Buffett. Every seat in the house seemed empty when this song came on, as everyone was prompted to their feet. Off of the same album, “Remember When” slowed the crowd down, and gave everyone a moment to catch their breath.
The most memorable part of the night was when the lights dimmed, and cell phone lights filled the arena. The crowd went silent, knowing exactly what song was to come next. You could almost hear the tears flowing. “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” is off of Jackson’s 10th studio album, Drive. The song was written in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Jackson and his band completed the song, and the crowd cheered louder than they had all night. A chant broke out, “USA. USA. USA…” To be a part of that was beautiful.
Jackson showed his age when fans in the pit were waving signs, hats, shirts and markers. He had a crew member retrieve the items for him to sign. He walked the length of the stage a few times, signing the items, and even throwing out a few t-shirts to those in the front rows. He noted a couple in the front celebrating, and pointed out that they had just gotten engaged, while he was singing. Jackson made it a point to connect with the audience, and notice his fans.
In all, Jackson and his band performed 20 songs from nine albums, released over the last 30 years. There was a great turnout at the event, which was held in the Smoothie King Center, which seats about 17,000 people. This was Jackson’s third year in a row performing in Louisiana, but his first performance in New Orleans in over 10 years.
ALAN JACKSON’S SETLIST
1. “Gone Country”
2. “I Don’t Even Know Your Name”
3. “Livin’ on Love”
4. “Good Time”
5. “The Blues Man”
6. “Summertime Blues”
7. “Who’s Cheatin’ Who”
8. “Here in the Real World”
9. “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”
11. “Little Bitty”
12. “Country Boy”
13. “Drive (For Daddy Gene)“
14. “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)“
15. “Don’t Rock the Jukebox”
16. “Remember When”
17. “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”
19. “Where I Come From”
20. “Mercury Blues”