So I was in the floor seat section at the Tim McGraw concert, chatting with people around me before the show and they warned me I better be ready to make a run for it.
Or else I was going to get run over.
With comments like “This was on her bucket list,” I figured — being short — I better get with the crowd if I wanted to get this review right.
When McGraw and his band walked onstage, there was indeed a thunderous rush, and I found myself propelled forward by a throng of women of all ages, screaming. Their menfolk mostly stood three or four rows back enjoying the show, but letting the women have the best view.
If you don't already know, McGraw is a country star with major sex appeal with the ladies.
I would spend the next roughly hour and a half wedged between them and the edge of the stage. I was that close, if I wanted to, I could count the tears in his jeans, the veins in his neck and the whiskers on his face.
It gave me a great vantage point to see how he handled the crowd. At one point, when McGraw jumped on the monitor speaker in front of me, I felt a push as those behind me sought to get closer to him. My hand was suddenly against his boot and I was frightened I would knock him off balance.
Thankfully that did not happen.
McGraw's agility, his showmanship and interaction with the audience amazed me. I watched him pump his fist and grin when he nailed a song the crowd loved.
McGraw and his boys seemed to really enjoy themselves Saturday night at Mile One, the middle of three concerts presented by 5th String Entertainment.
McGraw told the audience that he loved his job and well, I believe him. If it was just rote for him, he's a damn good actor.
“Welcome to our second night,” he told the crowd, adding it keeps getting better and teasing he might play all week. “My name is Tim and these are my boys. I hope you have fun tonight.”
I have never seen a McGraw concert before, so I 'm no expert. To be honest, I'm not much of a concertgoer. But I'd see him again, no question.
I have always liked country music and as I age, I find myself turning to the genre more and more. So I have bought my share of McGraw songs on iTunes.
But being at the edge of the stage, what impressed me so much was the eye contact he made with the audience; the way he clasped the outstretched hands and made sure that he covered all sides of that stage, interacting with the crowd. He played to everybody, behind, in front and to the sides.
“I see y'all back there,” he shouted to those in the very back of the stadium.
And he made an effort to connect — for instance, telling the crowd he and the boys were going out afterwards for fish and chips and poutine, asking if he had poutine pronounced right. I wonder how many Ches's restaurants were mobbed afterwards with people hoping for a sighting. And he thanked the crowd for coming — absolutely no “big star, you're lucky I graced you with my presence” attitude here.
Everyone in the crowd was snapping photos and McGraw gave them lots of material to work with, pausing at the edge of the stage over and over so they could get the best shots.
I saw at least one woman near me sharing the concert through Facetime to friends gathered in a living room somewhere.
Near the end of the concert, I heard someone's hopeful voice behind me, wondering “Will he throw his hat out?” He did not. But McGraw did throw at least one guitar pick out into the crowd.My nephew, who was a couple of rows of fans behind me, did the gentlemanly thing when the pick landed at his feet — he told the lady in front of him so she could have it. But a man who overheard stomped on it for himself.
When McGraw first walked off stage, there was the expectant thunderous roar, and he came back. Not just for one song, but he played a bunch more before waving goodbye. He was still waving behind him as he walked away the last time.
My favourite McGraw song is “I Like it, I love it.” He played pretty much everybody's favourites, including these and more: “Just to See You Smile,” “Back When,” “Truck Yeah,” “Red Ragtop,” “Real Good Man,” “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,” and “The Cowboy In Me.”
He also gave the audience some new songs like “Overrated,” and “Keep On Truckin’,” both pretty catchy.
But when McGraw sang, “Live Like You Were Dying,” he seemed the most connected to the lyrics.
On the cab ride home, I heard this story from the driver. I don't know if it is true, because the dispatcher hadn't heard it when I checked. But according to the lore, the driver asked his fare where he was from.
When the guy said Nashville, supposedly the driver replied, “So you came all the way here to see Tim McGraw?”
To which the fare replied, “I am Tim McGraw” and offered a signed guitar pick.
By the way, if you haven't heard local band The Secrets — Karla Pilgrim, Terri Lynn Eddy and Renée Batten — yet, go check them out. Their debut CD is called “Break Even.” They did a really fine job opening for McGraw. I loved them — especially “Trailer Park” — and will be looking for them on iTunes.
See related slideshow: http://www.thetelegram.com/Slideshow/11103/Tim-McGraw-delivers-on-real-good-show/1