Alan Jackson RodeoHouston, Reliant Stadium March 18, 2012
Be sure to check out our slideshow of Alan Jackson and the final day of RodeoHouston.
By the time Alan Jackson's 2012 RodeoHouston season-closing show was over, his missing moustache already had its own Twitter account. No, it was not I who created the account. I was too busy watching the show, and bemoaning the foods that I would miss in my diet until next year's rodeo starts up again.
His newly clean-shaven face aside, Jackson's pure country was just what I needed to level myself off from a week of SXSW in Austin and the constant barrage of hipsters, drunks, punks, and corporate skunks. And that's saying something, since the RodeoHouston crowds aren't exactly the most stress-relieving. Maybe it was the fact that Jackson's set was a slice of normalcy in an otherwise frazzling week.
Opening with the meat-and-potatoes party country of "Good Time," he helped bid adieu to Texas spring break in front of an audience of a little more than 61,000. Jackson, Reba and season openers Alabama were arguably the most traditional country artists of this past month, with a wink and a nod to Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton.
Besides being able to help us time-travel with cuts like "Chattahoochee" and "Little Bitty," the man delivered the wistful, heartstring-tuggers "Remember When" and "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" on Sunday.
Most surprising was his newest single "So You Don't Have To Love Me Anymore", which stood in stark contrast to the relative sunniness of the rest of his set.
The song, now making the rounds on country radio, is a departure from the aw-shucks good-ol'-country-boy act and embraces a bare-bones emotionality that the world hasn't seen from Jackson, probably since the tears-and-beer wail of "Here In The Real World."
Let's hope Jackson's upcoming album, the first on his own new indie label, has the same weight too. There is no reason why Jackson can't have a second life as a mean son of a bitch on record.
Personal Bias: I needed this RodeoHouston set to act as a sort of Xanax after the past week of work. Thanks, Mr. Jackson, I am for real.
The Crowd: Damn, you guys just didn't think wearing sunscreen this week at the beach was a good idea, huh?
Overheard In the Crowd: A lot of tykes on the MetroRail home were not happy about school going back in session from Spring Break, but the parents seemed pretty stoked.
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Random Notebook Dump: Jackson still plays "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" live, which I think is way more admirable now that the events in the song and it's release are both a decade in the past. He could have easily replaced it with a fun '90s single, like "Gone Country", but keeping it in shows that he's a sight more genuine and honorable that some of the other acts who wrote 9/11 anthems after 2001.
Note: The rodeo set a new record for paid attendance this year with 1.28 million fans in Reliant Stadium and 25 million visitors on the grounds. Five concerts -- Jason Aldean, Go Tejano Day, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry and Zac Brown Band -- broke into the Top 20 all-time.