BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
Shows at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska are always a treat. Hell, shows right now ANYWHERE are a treat, but it’s always nice to be welcomed into the biggest venue in your city to do what you love to do, you know? And for an artist as well known and accomplished as Brantley Gilbert? Sign me the fuck up y’all!
And on 9.02.2021, my earholes were pounded with 2.5 hours of what I can only describe as the most enjoyable country show I have seen to date.
Opening the show was a fella named Tyler Braden. This wasn’t a name that I was familiar with, but I was hooked from the opening song – this dude has SOUL, and you can feel it in his music. See, the thing that really gets me about country music, especially pop-country, is that the lyrics seem shallow, it all kind of bleeds together in this cesspool of simply “beer, back roads, trucks, and chicks,” but refreshingly that wasn’t what I found in Braden at all.
This was his first ever arena show, and while his nerves showed through a little bit, the kid did very well in my opinion. He spent several years as a firefighter, and became a little emotional as he dedicated the show to anyone with a dream. “I played shows for seven years before this became a reality, and there wasn’t one time I couldn’t find a brother to cover my shift,” he said. “So this tour is dedicated to anyone with a dream, and to all the people that said that we’d never make it. Here we are!”
His set list included a cover of “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATHE which was very well done, as well as “Little Red Wine,” “Leave Me Alone,” and “Ways to Miss You.”
After a brief interlude, it was time for the main act.
And you know what?
Brantley Gilbert – that motherfucker.
He duped me!
Here I am, waiting in the pit for him to waltz onto the stage, right? Like…that’s just what you do as an artist. Your bandmates come on the stage, and then you come on.
But this guy is tricky.
He shows up on a fucking Harley in the front of the stage. It’s like he just beamed in from Starship 9 or some shit and starts blasting. Regardless, it was pretty sweet though, and in no way was it lackluster as some other locals described it. Gilbert acts, performs, and styles like a fucking badass.
Brass knuckle microphone?
Chains on the black jeans?
After the first three songs, Gilbert confessed to the audience that he discovered that he was allergic to alcohol.
“I tend to break out in handcuffs,” he said to thunderous applause.
“So, for the sake of the younger members in the audience tonight, let’s just say that I became a much bigger fan of Willie Nelson…”
One thing I will say that I was impressed with is Gilbert’s voice. He sounds just like he does on the records. Like a bag of gravel made love to a 90-year-old smoker’s throat and out popped Brantley. Gilbert also seems to love to interact with his fans. He repeatedly gave fist-bumps and high-fives to the crowd, and they of course ate up every second of it.
After a slower, acoustic set of three songs that he played from the seat of his Harley (which, by the way, was the first Harley he ever owned), they played “What Happens In A Small Town,” a song that they recorded with Lindsay Ell, and while she wasn’t there for the performance, they played the music video in the background for the audience to enjoy. She’s got a perfect sweet and buttery vocal range to compliment Gilbert on the track.
Shortly thereafter, he did a salute to our military with “One Hell of an Amen,” with an electric guitar tribute to the Star-Spangled Banner that brought the audience to their feet in applause.
All in all, it was a wonderful show with a mixed bag of humans. While there was more flannel at this show than what I’m used to at a rock show, it was still pretty awesome. The fans responded well to Gilbert, and there wasn’t, from what I could tell, a single incredulous soul in the building.
Oh, and can we celebrate that there wasn’t an ounce of lip-syncing at this show? One thing that really asses my chaps at a show is when a huge band takes the stage, and it’s painfully obvious that their music has been pre-recorded for the show. But Tyler and Gilbert – not these guys. They’re the real deal for sure, and fuck – they can sing so well that perhaps the rock community should take some pointers for a change.
As usual, the staff at Pinnacle Bank Arena was top-notch – extremely helpful and as pleasant to work with as they were for the KISS and Zac Brown Band shows – thank you again for having me out there for Gilbert!
I wish Tyler and Brantley the safest of travels on the next leg of their journey on the tour!
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