Concert Reviews

Gary Allan Brings The Heat to CLE

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It was one of those dreaded blustery spring days in Cleveland on Saturday (3/30) as rain, snow and falling temperatures filled the air. But that was not the case inside Masonic Cleveland Auditorium, where platinum selling country music superstar Gary Allan delivered his trademark raucous and heartfelt live performance, which had the Sold Out house really feeling the heat! Considered by many to be the quintessential outlaw country artist today, the California native and his band excited fans with their Bakersfield influenced sound. A little twang, a little organ and lots of fiddle and steel guitar, coupled with lyrics that speak to every emotion a person can possibly feel, made for a magical night of music at this historic and very cool venue.

In the course of his 20 plus year career, Allan has produced eight albums, three certified platinum and five gold, totaling 7 million albums sold and over 1.4 billion streams. The prolific singer and songwriter has released 30 singles, with 14 reaching the top 10, and 5 Number One’s including: “Man To Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing On But The Radio,” “Watching Airplanes” and “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain).”

Allan’s set included all of his hits, plus a couple new songs that hint at a new album coming soon. To say the audience knew and loved Allan’s music is an understatement. It was as though he had 2,500 back up singers on every one of his hits. As far as the new songs are concerned, they too were excellent. And the crowd’s reaction to them was very positive and enthusiastic. “Less Is More” and “Unfiltered” will likely be on the upcoming album, and Allan is proud of the new work. With respect to “Unfiltered” in particular, Allan himself said “this (song) is the best thing I’ve got in my back pocket right now.” He’s clearly thinking potential hit, and frankly, so are we.

While Allan’s voice was strong and his energy high, he also demonstrated his knack for showmanship when after leaving the stage for a moment, he returned wearing the black cowboy hat and duster he was known for wearing in the early years. As he walked down the stairs singing “Smoke Rings In The Dark,” the crowd went absolutely nuts and roared its approval. On a personal level, this was the highlight of the show, as it took us back to 2003 at the Cleveland Rib Burn Off where we first saw him perform. And yes, the black cowboy hat and duster were right there with him.

To attend a Gary Allan concert is to feel something, and to feel it deeply. Be it tragedy, triumph, love, loss melancholy, hope or just having fun, his music takes us back to times and places where we’ve all shared in his experience, one way or another. Allan gives voice to those experiences and the memories we are left with. And for an artist, that’s the best thing that they can do. Thanks Gary Allan for being the ray of California sunshine on an otherwise drab and dreary Ohio day.

Gary Allan at Masonic Auditorium (3.30.19) – Photos by Gerard Hilinski

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