This was Casey’s first official post-signing concert, opening for Sugarland on their Incredible Machine Tour at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas. In his twenty-minute set, Casey played one cover and introduced five news songs.
The concert was well-attended by Casey fans and there is quite a bit of video from the show. First up is from Polina:
Worth waiting for — New videos from CoolCJFan, very high quality!
These are from JabbasSweetie:
CJFan_Amber took the following five videos last night. We hope to have more videos ready to share shortly:
Another concert-goer posted this small segment of Casey’s second song:
Casey took the stage tonight at exactly 7:30 pm Central time and started out by laying down some old-time blues with his own rousing, wailing version of Long Tall Texan. Casey’s voice was strong and soulful and the band was jamming like they’d been together for years. There was no sign of nervousness, befitting someone who’s been doing this for a very long time — if not on such a public stage as this. For an opener, he had a great crowd reaction and they sure enjoyed him throwing the name “Little Rock” into the song! The next song was Bulletproof, a bluesy, honky-tonk song that was a throwback to an earlier era when music wasn’t overproduced and masked by technology but raw and real. After the first two cool, bluesy numbers, Casey slowed things down with a slower, country-tinged romantic ballad called Let’s Don’t Call it a Night which was highlighted by a sweet, but short, aching guitar solo. The sound mix was a bit off, with the background vocals a bit too loud and the thumping guitar a little intrusive, but when Casey’s voice was allowed to shine through, it soared.
The next song, Til My Guitar Get Tired of Playing the Blues, sounded like a love song to his guitar. He got it to wail and cry and sing. It was beautiful. His voice, and the lyrics, felt deeply personal, tinged with sad longing.
Like Casey’s set during the American Idol Live Tour, there were many guitar changes. For the next song he switched from the electric blue to white and amped up his performance even more, moving from bluesy Casey to country Casey to Casey the rocker. Sometimes he would tease and gently stroke his guitar, coaxing every sweet note out of it. Then another guitar switch and Casey just pounded away, as his brother would say, beating on it like it owed him money.
After the tender Til My Guitar, Casey ramped it up with the bluesy-rock number I Just Gotta Drive. The song does what it promises, carrying a driving beat that is propulsive and urgent. Casey ended his set with the song Done Made up My Mind and it was my favorite of the set (putting aside my concerns about grammar) with a great hook and cool, Southern rock feel. By the end, the crowd saw the various aspects of Casey’s musicianship, all of his different influences and ways of expressing himself in his musical bag of tricks. And from what I could hear, they loved it!
CoolCJFan tweeted these photos of Casey playing his set:
@erinkmaxwell tweeted this picture during the set:
Janita394 (Jan Humphrey) shared these photos taken by her very secure husband from a very good vantage point:
Melanie Aureli Santana shared these photos she took of Casey on stage:
Kathy Terry took some pictures which she has up on her blog as well as her recap of the concert. Check that out here. Here’s a sample:
As indicated above, Kathy put together hundreds of photos in a picture book which you can check out, and order, here.
Casey tweeted shortly after his set ended tonight. Wouldn’t it be great if he would always tweet his location like this? We could put a GPS tracker somewhere on him, if that would make it easier.
First song very bluesy WooOO. http://www.mediafire.com/?842z5lnxe2xhn7l
Second song now, more rockabilly–I hear a driving piano. http://www.mediafire.com/?mxuepob2u74qg9x
Third song piano intro sounds softer, love song (panty dropper?) . Really loving this song from what I can hear. http://www.mediafire.com/?ujxl4m56ov8afrp
Fourth song–another slow one “to me there’s just no way to get over you.” Guitar sounds Allman Brothers; no, maybe Clapton. http://www.mediafire.com/?sy0d9isvidyo616
Fifth song – scorching electric (slide?) intro.
There was a review of Casey’s set in ArkansasOnline, though they seemed to get at least one fact wrong: Casey James, a former contestant on American Idol, opened the show with several bluesy numbers and a rollicking finale with “Jealous Guy.” The rollicking part was correct, but it looks like they used a standin title until they learned the correct one — then forgot to make the switch.
The first detailed fan review comes from KacinaDoll on the Idol Forums:
More of the crowd was aware of him than I would have thought and most were already in their seats and attentive when he started. His sound is definitely more southern rock than country, but he opened with a cover of Long Tall Texan. He did it very cute and swingy in the middle and folks seemed to really like it. Next was something with Feel Like I’m Gonna Groove(?) which was very honky tonk rock and bluesy. Then two slower songs, Let’s Don’t Call it a Night and Time to Play the Blues. I think he lost the crowd a little bit on these. They aren’t bad, just not as much fun as the first two, then Drive which I see everyone’s already talking about, which picked the crowd back up a bit and closed with Done Made Up My Mind (?, maybe called My Mind from how Casey introduced it — I couldn’t tell). Drive was good, and I could see it maybe being a single, but I like the last one much better. Very strong close.
Except for Long Tall Texan, I didn’t recognize any of the other songs so I don’t know if they are covers or originals. Let’s Don’t Call It A Night sounded very much like an Alabama song, so I wondered if that was cowritten with the Alabama guy (Randy something?) and Drive definitely sounds like something Casey would have written.
I don’t know anything about country radio except that most hit songs in any genre have a really strong hook. For that reason, and because it’s my personal favorite anyway, I hope the last song My Mind(?) is his single. Unless of course that was a cover.
Sorry, no vids — my son used up the battery in my camera and neglected to mention that to me, so I spent most of the set thinking I couldn’t find the on button in the dark.
Casey’s set was definitely less polished than the other two acts, but that’s to be expected and I don’t think anyone held it against him. The local DJ who introduced him was very high on him and mentioned repeatedly that we would be hearing much more from Casey in the future.
IMO, and this is just me, Casey should have saved Long Tall Texan for later in the set. The crowd would have stayed hooked after that, but the slower numbers weren’t what people were in the mood to hear just then. For example, Little Big Town had them on their feet for Little White Church, but they sat back down for You’re the Reason and pretty much stayed down ’til Boondocks. Still, people seemed pretty happy with what they heard from Casey.
It was a good set, but it wasn’t a home run. It probably wouldn’t have mattered much if it had been. Sugarland kicks concert @ss. If you’re not twang-sensitive and you get the chance to see them, go. I now know why they sell out so fast. They flat put on a show and Jennifer Nettles reminded me, in the best possible way, of Mick Jagger.
Casey signed after the show near the main exit. There were maybe 40 or so hard core Casey fans standing in line waiting, but when the show ended and the crowd started pouring out, a 100 or so more started pushing in and trying to cut line and take pictures. Casey’s security guys got it under control (it was never scary-out-of-control, just annoying) and eventually even made the pretty young things who were trying to cut line go to the back. This disappointed Casey somewhat. It disappointed the pretty young things more and they didn’t stick around. Their loss. Casey’s very nice, taller even than I thought, and skinnier by far. He’s just as pretty, and the rumors are true: he smells great. Odd thing to notice, but true nonetheless. He’s also pretty proactive with fans, asking their names and making sure to shake their hands. The security guys made sure everyone knew they only got one picture, but they and Casey made sure they were good pictures. If yours was blurry or what have you, you took another, no problem.
One more thing — both Sugarland and Little Big Town have a lot of fun, cutesy stuff in their repetoires. Casey’s music is not cute, silly or gimmicky. It makes him a less than perfect fit with the other two, but he certainly warmed the crowd up even so. Though the crowd did stay in their seats for his entire set, and most of LBT’s. Stood all the way through Sugarland, make what you will of that.
I’m glad I went. Casey is entertaining without being schmaltzy, lounge actish, or desperate seeming. And his songs are much, much better than anything poor Lee had to record. It would be nice if his band would have pretended to enjoy the down tempo numbers as much as the others, but otherwise they were good. And it would have been nice if they’d had more of a set, production stuff, but I’m guessing that’s typical for openers and even Jennifer ran out of spray paint at a crucial point in Sugarland’s set, so props must be expensive, no? Go if you get a chance. It’s money well spent.