The Home Team Tour rolled into Abbotsford…
Thomas Rhett and his Home Team tour is the second big country show to roll into Abbotsford this spring following Kip Moore in late April. Rhett has gained recent superstardom after several songs like Die A Happy Man & Crash & Burn have charted extremely well on the charts. His opening act, Brett Young, is into just his second year in the limelight but is showing the promise that should propel him along that superstar highway as well.
For a guy that thought he’d be making his career with his arm instead of his voice, Brett Young has certainly come a long way. Originally drafted by both the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the MLB which he turned down to stay in school, Brett is a typical California kid out of Anaheim. When he blew out his elbow, he knew he needed another path to the majors. After finally moving to Nashville from California, Brett was signed to a label and the magic started soon after. ‘Sleep Without You‘ was his first release which peaked at number two on country charts and was certified gold. On stage, Brett is genuine and very much the ‘boy next door’; a simple wardrobe of slightly tattered jeans, black T and jacket, one gold chain and a tattoo sleeve on his left arm. The music is Caliville, a West Coast-meets-Southern country sound that has honest lyrics that appeal to everyone. Brett’s smooth voice killer smile and surfer looks are captivating. ‘In Case You Didn’t Know‘ is another certified gold song released this year that had the audience swaying along. Heartbreak songs are what country is based on and Brett’s songs tell about love’s devotion and lost love in a way that really makes you feel. He definitely has a big career ahead as he can write lyrics that win your heart.
Thomas Rhett Atkins Jr. is the son of country royalty. His father Rhett is one of the best songwriters Nashville has ever seen. Thomas has clearly inherited all of Daddy’s talent because his songs are amazing. He has built up a huge fan base in a very short time. With his red flannel shirt over a white t-shirt, ragged jeans, and red Adidas shoes, Thomas is boppin’ all over that stage. His stage presence has blossomed over the short few years I’ve seen him live. I’m not sure that the country music genre will contain him as he is yet another country artist that could easily cross over into mainstream pop a la Taylor Swift. Rhett started with an R & B version of ‘Crash and Burn’ that raised a few eyebrows, and then launched into more familiar sounding versions of ‘South Side’, and ‘Give Me Some of That’ which got the show going in the right direction. The crowd sang back the songs they knew but struggled a bit with a couple newer releases as Canadian radio is a bit behind the American stations and Sirius XM.
The Back Stage
An almost standard part of any show these days is the short set played at the back of the arena where the artist makes his way through the crowd to an intimate stage for an acoustic set. Thomas started with older hits like ‘Something To Do With My Hands‘ and ‘Beer With Jesus‘. The band then joined him for some songs that other artists like Lee Brice, Florida Georgia Line, and Michael Ray. It’s always fun watching the security guys struggle as they escort him back to the front stage.
Back up front, they launch into the ultra-fun ‘Vacation’ and the party in on. This is Thomas Rhett at his best, having a blast dancing, improvising with the band and a cute interaction with a small boy from the audience he pulled onstage to help close out the number. Rhett disappears at the end of the song but emerges up through the stage at a full drum kit and plays along to ‘It Goes Like This‘. Rhett first started on drums as a teen and would play on stage with his father when he was old enough. After kickin’ it on drums, Rhett plays his ace, a song he wrote about his wife Lauren, who had become a social media darling with her appearances in his videos or Instagram posts. They have known each other since grade one and married in 2012. Die A Happy Man quickly unseated his hit Crash and Burn and stayed at number one for over eight weeks, only the second song to ever do so. The little white lights of cell phones had the AEC shining like a lighthouse! T-Shirt and a cover of Bruno Mars 24K Magic closed the show to a standing ovation. Sadly, no encore but the evening lacked for nothing. As an added bonus, no rain!
Tom Paillé / @TomPaille