Concert Reviews

Rodney Atkins Keeps it Country at the MGM

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For area country music lovers, Saturday night (10/26) was a special time at the MGM Northfield Park when Rodney Atkins took the stage with a show that celebrated, in his words, “family, friends and God.” And what a celebration it was! The Knoxville, TN native cranked out hit after hit in a deeply personal and at times reflective performance that more than lived up to his promise. By his own admission, Atkins isn’t an “awards show” kind of artist. His songs are intended to share stories of life, both his own and others, that people can personally relate to with ease. His music connects with listeners, and its popularity is unmistakable.

With his folksy demeanor and energetic stage presence, Atkins had the MGM crowd engaged and joining in on virtually every song. He got the evening rolling with “Caught Up In The Country,” the title track from his latest album, which is his first since 2011’s “Take A Back Road.” The song set the table perfectly for what was yet to come.

Atkins worked his way seamlessly through a set that effectively blurred the lines between old and new. Songs like “Cleaning This Gun,” “These Are My People,” “He’s Mine,” “Watching You,” “Farmers Daughter,” “Take A Back Road” and “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)” were clearly what the fans most wanted to hear. Looking out over the crowd, folks as far back as the eye could see were on their feet dancing, singing and having a darn good time. But the new music wasn’t just filler or an afterthought. One song in particular, “Figure Out You (Riddle),” which appears on the album as a duet with his wife Rose Falcon, was a jaw dropper. As raucous as fans were for much of the show, this slow-tempo classic in the making had the crowd in total quiet and rapt attention. It was almost like being in church! Atkins’ deepest feelings for his wife were on display for all the world to see with this song, and the crowd went wild with their approval when it was finished. I’m guessing that there was hardly a dry eye in the house.

One thing about a Rodney Atkins show that we haven’t mentioned yet is FUN. He’s backed by an awesome group of musicians who are both talented musically and showmen in their own right. And for these guys, a solid ZZ Top cover is what floats their boats the most. Their rocking rendition of “La Grange” did that little old band from Texas proud. Very proud!

Cleveland country music fans left the MGM this night with a visceral understanding of why they love country music. Rodney Atkins, thanks for a memorable night of music that we’ll carry with us for a long time to come. We look forward to seeing you next time…

Rodney Atkins at MGM Northfield Park (10.26.19) – Photos by Gerard Hilinski

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