by Gene Marrano
A sellout crowd at the Roanoke Civic Center coliseum found themselves in for a treat last Friday as headliner Brad Paisley returned for a high-voltage show that included video clips and special effects on a giant screen. “It is such a pleasure to be back,” said Paisley as he opened his set, “I love coming back to your city.”
One segment featured the venerable Andy Griffith of Mayberry fame on the video screen, as Paisley played his hit song, “Waitin’ On a Woman.” Paisley also worked the crowd into a frenzy at times, wading out into the crowd on special gangways. He even sang a song at the back of the arena to fans in the “cheap seats,” as he called them, while working his way around the arena floor. The gesture was much appreciated. Paisley’s sense of showmanship certainly matched his formidable guitar work and singing.
Jerrod Niemann, one of the newer faces of country music, opened the concert and correctly told people that they were “in for quite a show.” Darius Rucker, more familiar to some from his work fronting Hootie and the Blowfish, followed him. If one didn’t know better they may have thought that Rucker was the headliner, judging by the enthusiastic reception to his set – which included several Hootie songs.
Rucker also mentioned that he had “the distinct honor to play a round of golf with Virginia Tech [head] football coach Frank Beamer,” — who was attending the concert with his wife Cheryl. Beamer gamely posed for pictures and signed autographs after Niemann’s set. Rucker ended with a stirring rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” as he warmed up the crowd for Paisley. The Civic Center has another sellout coming up – the James Taylor concert at the Performing Arts Theatre in May sold out in less than two hours.