Concert Reviews

Gary Allan at the Hard Rock was “Right Where I Needed To Be”


It was one of many concerts seeing Gary Allan, but only my second time at The Hard Rock Rocksino since they opened in 2013.  This concert on Friday, February 3, was sold out, as are many of his upcoming shows on his current tour.

Most would agree, once a Gary Allan fan, always a GA fan, but what I noticed with this crowd on Friday night, is that it entailed fans of all ages, from youth to the elderly, with a large amount being the “millennial” crowd, a new young fan base that has recognized the talents of Allan.

I was granted stage front for my review, and as Allan entered with the smoke surrounding him, created by dry ice I assume, the crowd was on their feet, and never sat down after that.  Opening with his very descriptive song “It Ain’t The Whiskey,” followed by “Smoke Rings In The Dark,” both songs referenced two of the many vices that can go along with the heartache with which he sings about.

His third song choice, was “Her Man,” which he noted proudly was his first release in 1996.

Allan was surrounded by several band members including fiddle and a steel guitar, which in my opinion, is totally “Country” with both of those included.  Throughout his performance, Allan switched out to many different guitars of his own, which I am sure individually have a unique sound relative to the song he is playing at the time. He continued with hit after hit, including his newest release “Do You Wish It Was Me,” along with notable previous hits, including “Man to Man.”

With a phenomenal lead guitarist in his band, Allan stepped away from his own guitar allowing him to put all his energy into  “Watching Airplanes.”  The audience sang along with him to “Songs About Rain” and “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” a huge favorite.

True Gary Allan fans, who know his story, will admit that “life has not always been beautiful” for him and his family.  But, he utilized that pain and tragedy and poured it into his work, and when you hear his music, you feel the loss that he suffered during those dark times that he doesn’t let us forget, and fits it into his music.

I had the opportunity to meet with Allan in the Fall of 2016 at his Youngstown concert, and we talked in detail about his newest passion, designing, and making by hand his signature Sterling Silver jewelry pieces, which I purchased a few for myself, not an impulse buy, honestly.  In person, he is genuine, passionate, raw, but sweet, all put together in a man of many talents.

Much of his music has inspired fans in many ways, but for me, his encore, which resulted from fans stomping their feet for him to return to the stage, was my favorite “Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain.”  That song speaks to us all of hope, light after darkness, and encourages you to stand up and move on with your life after hardship, pain and loss.  I was proud to be a part of his music that night, after all, “I was right where I needed to be.”

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