After singing “Southern Comfort Zone” to open his set Sunday night, Brad Paisley reminded the Nassau Coliseum crowd that his current stint on the road is called the “Beat This Winter Tour.”
"Thursday, winter won,” Paisley said of the snowstorm, which postponed the performance for three days. “Tonight, we kick winter's ---!"
That defiant tone was shared by the audience -- which included a group of 50 20-somethings pounding both the icy pavement and countless Pabst Blue Ribbons in Parking Lot 6 before the show despite the frigid air. They partied around a pickup truck with a pair of gargantuan speakers on the bed offering up the best in today’s twang, all while an American flag flew 20 feet in the sky.
Inside, a packed house that had negotiated commutes fraught with danger and spread table salt on their sidewalks when 7-Eleven ran out of ice melt had earned their fun. And Paisley was intent on providing it after opening performances from Danielle Bradbery and Chris Young. When he walked to the end of the long aisle in front of the stage and fans started reaching his way, security sprung into action. Paisley politely asked the guards to “chill out,” saying no one was there to hurt him.
From then on the tone was set. Paisley has a lavish show setup, which includes a “Star Trek”-inspired cartoon sequence opened by friend William Shatner while decked out in Capt. Kirk garb. During the Carrie Underwood duet “Remind Me” a lighting optical illusion at the back of the stage makes it look like the recent “Sound of Music” star is making a guest appearance.
But Paisley is at his best at the most low-maintenance moments. He wanted to join in on the beach ball being batted around in front of him -- until he realized it was a cheap balloon painted red, white and blue with Magic Marker.
“That’s the most redneck thing I’ve ever seen,” Paisley said to roars. He put the balloon on the ground, got a running start and kicked it, barely doing better than Charlie Brown aided by Lucy Van Pelt. Still, he received a World Cup-worthy “USA” chant.
He paused after the first verse of “This Is Country Music” to give one of his guitars to a little boy no older than 4. At one point he took someone’s cell phone while singing to create a personal video just for her, complete with a panorama of the audience.
Before singing “Beat This Summer” -- the inspiration for the “Beat This Winter” moniker -- Paisley said if the audience imagined it was 85 and sunny it could be that way before performing in a bikini-clad and beach-suds-laden video background.
Before long his fans would have to go back into the brisk night. But Paisley’s genuinely warm feelings toward his following went with them.
Check out Josh Stewart’s live tweets from Sunday’s show @JoshNASCARWWE for the complete set list and more highlights.