Blake Shelton Battles the Flu to Give Houston What It Wants

Blake Shelton at the Rodeo in 2015 because he wasn't feeling well last night and wasn't okaying any photo releases right away.
Blake Shelton at the Rodeo in 2015 because he wasn't feeling well last night and wasn't okaying any photo releases right away. Photo courtesy of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Blake Shelton
March 1, 2K18
NRG Stadium

This was not the first time that the reigning People’s Sexiest Man Alive had come to RodeoHouston; back in 2014, the Adam Levine and the boys in Maroon 5 hit the revolving stage while he held the title. So maybe Blake Shelton didn’t get to make that bit of history last night, but not every show has to be historical; being good can be good enough.

Thursday night was always going to end with Shelton being carted off in the back of a pickup truck a sweaty mess, but going into it most assumed that the sweat would be from putting in the hard work of putting on a show for more than 65,000 fans. In the end, that assumption was mostly right; Shelton did put in the hard work of putting on a show for more than 65,00 fans, but the sweat was less about the show and more about the fact he was battling the flu.

I can barely imagine what kind of stress performing for that many people puts on the body — listen, if Garth Brooks can cop to being nervous before a Rodeo gig so can the rest of you — let alone trying to do so while battling the flu. I’m writing this review with a sore throat in the solitude of my home office and I’m miserable; that Shelton was able to hit the stage with a smile and most of his voice intact in something I respect.

So while it may not end up being as strong of a performance as he would have liked, it was more than enough to make the fans happy. The set list was career-spanning, drawing from his newer material with “I’ll Name the Dogs” to reaching way back to 2001 for the very Texas-appropriate “Austin.” If we’re being honest, I didn’t really notice anything was amiss — in particular, I thought “Sangria” was a real strong standout of the night when it popped up early in the set — until Shelton himself mentioned his health issues.

When the night closed, Shelton climbed into the back of the truck looking less like a conquering hero and more like a man who had been in a boxing match that hadn’t entirely gone his way. But he was still standing, having accomplished what he set out to do when he got to Houston. That’s worth a tip of the hat, whether you think he’s all that sexy or not.

Personal Bias: I’ve never watched The Voice, but judging by how I feel about their recorded output, I’d have to say that Blake is probably my least favorite of the judges, only because Adam Levine wrote “Makes Me Wonder.”

The Crowd: 68,133 strong, full of fans ready to laugh and cheer everything Blake did.

Overheard in the Crowd:
“I was in a tub with showgirls.” - A young man
“That’s a good place to be!” - His mom

Mutton Bustin’ Update, Day 3: Tonight’s winner allegedly wants to be a State Farm agent when she grows up.

Random Notebook Dump: Taking the artists out of the stadium in the back of a pickup truck is genius because it gives those folks looking to try and beat the crowds an unobtrusive visual clue that the show is coming to an end.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia