Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 11, 2017
Alan Jackson might very well be the ideal RodeoHouston entertainer. He has hits for days, widespread appeal and is widely regarded among the country greats over the past 30 years. That might explain why Jackson took the stage at NRG Stadium on Saturday night for his 23rd(!!) RodeoHouston performance before an announced paid attendance of 74,259.
Jackson doesn’t take the rodeo stage to try and expand his fanbase while making a name for himself; that happened years ago. He isn’t pimping new material or “playing some of the new stuff” — he hasn’t even released new material in a couple of years. Rather, Jackson delivered exactly what RodeoHouston crowds anticipate — an hour of hits, stories and one of the most comfortable, lived-in performances (this is a compliment) this year’s rodeo lineup will deliver.
With his trademark cowboy hat in tow, Jackson ripped through a 14-song, hour-long set that featured mostly hits. Whether up-tempo favorites like “Little Bitty” or slower fare like “Here in the Real World,” Jackson and the Strayhorns – many of whom have been with him for decades – were in-sync for the entirety of a performance that peaked at just the right times.
The hits only continued from there, from “Neon Rainbow” to “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and “Remember When.” These are all good, popular songs, but what makes them special is that each comes with its own story. “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” traces the band’s origins in its own why, while “Remember When” somehow sums up the circle of life in less than five minutes. “Neon Rainbow,” meanwhile, details how a radio that Jackson’s father won paved the way for one of the most successful careers in the annals of country music.
So, yeah, Jackson’s set was filled with stories and poignant moments. But it was still a country show, which means good-timing tunes and honky-tonk classics. Jackson closed with the Jimmy Buffett collaboration, “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” (no Buffett cameo on this particular Saturday night), “Chattahoochee” and “Where I Come From.” Those three singles were, based on the crowd reaction, pretty much the three tracks you’d roll out on.
Plus, he somehow still pulls off a moustache, which is certainly worth a tip of the cowboy hat.