Dunno if Blake Shelton has a wedding to Gwen Stefani on his mind. But for his sold-out concert Friday at Xcel Energy Center, he featured something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
The old was the Bellamy Brothers, who are 73 and 68. The new was a banjo-shaped stage with a nifty live video setup. The borrowed was opening act Lauren Alaina, a former runner-up on "American Idol," the rival to Shelton's "The Voice." And the blue was, well, his jeans. Duh.
The 4½-hour concert lasted longer than your cousin's wedding but was probably more fun. That's because Shelton, who can counsel aspiring singers on "The Voice," is expert at putting together a show.
For starters, he's figured out how to compensate for a repertoire of 25 No. 1 country songs that's heavy on ballads and midtempo songs. He picked up the pace on Friday with a combination of his chatty, playful personality and his savvy employment of three heroes — Nashville golden oldies John Anderson, the Bellamy Brothers and Trace Adkins — to appear during his set to change the tempo and texture.
As anyone hooked on "The Voice" knows, Shelton has a gift of gab. Listening to him for three hours in concert, you'd swear he had an M.A. in B.S. A combination of gosh-darn good ol' boy and made-for-Hollywood slickster, he lays it on thicker than giblet gravy on y'all's mashed potatoes.
The Oklahoman teased a guy near the stage for illustrating the hit song "Doing What She Likes" by taking his wife to the concert. Shelton made endless self-deprecating comments, especially about not having songs suitable for singalongs like the Bellamys and Anderson do. And he used wordplay to goof around in song, such as singing the line that she puts "the FU in future" in <URL destination="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW5Cf64d7KA">"She's Got a Way with Words."
</URL>Shelton, 42, knows how to pick — and write — songs that connect with women. He turned serious on Michael Bublé's "Home," about coming back to you-know-where after a long road trip. It was easily his most committed vocal of the long night, with his easy baritone oozing sincerity.
Shelton also got excited singing about dogs, whether his 2002 hit version of George Jones' "Ol Red," a shaggy dog story about a prisoner who committed a crime of passion and tends to the prison's dog, or his 2017 hit "I'll Name the Dogs," another one of his witty and worshipful love ditties with lines like "you pick the paint and I'll pick a guitar" and "you name the babies and I'll name the dogs."
For the guys among the 14,000 fans at the X, Shelton had a few party songs, including his early Jimmy Buffettesque hit "Some Beach," his token drinking tune, "Sangria," and the raucous "Hillbilly Bone," his invigorating duet with Adkins.
While deep-voiced Adkins, the former "All Star Celebrity Apprentice" winner, was a big winner with the crowd, especially with his explosive nonsense hit "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," the sit-down acoustic set with Shelton and all his heroes was one of the highlights. It was heartfelt and heartwarming to hear such classics as "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me" and "Every Light in the House."
Similarly, Alaina enlivened Shelton's set by duetting on "Lonely Tonight," his 2014 chart-topping duet with Ashley Monroe. It was a wonderful showcase for Alaina's alluring voice and his BS.
"Now that is a singer," he declared afterward. "And she's not afraid to suck up to y'all and wear a [Wild] jersey. Darn I wish I had thought of that."