It was a night full of country music at Wthe Kirby Center on Saturday as “American Idol” Season 10 champion Scotty McCreery brought his “Weekend Roadtrip” tour to town.
The now 19-year-old singer mixed in his hits with some faithful renditions of classic country songs for his screaming female fans, many of whom rushed the stage as he sang “Write My Number on Your Hand.” McCreery then took out a marker and did just that for as many of them as he could before the song ended and the girls were ushered back to their seats.
Many of the songs were from McCreery’s debut album, “Clear As Day,” which hit the top of both the country and pop charts in late 2011, about five months after his “American Idol” triumph.
Early highlights included his “Idol” coronation song, “I Love You This Big,” “Walk in the Country,” the ballad “Dirty Dishes,” and “Water Tower Town,” complete with video images of his hometown of Garner, N.C.
McCreery, dressed all in black with a very visible silver cross around his neck, seemed genuinely humble as he told the audience about going to Milwaukee on a family vacation in 2010 and ending up the “American Idol” champion. He also told a humorous story about going to Los Angeles and battling with the show’s producers to do country songs instead of the latest by Lady GaGa.
“And now I get to do this every night,” McCreery, who goes to college three days a week, said. “Lots of performers say they have the fans to thank, but I truly do.
“You all voted for me, so thank you.”
After playing some new songs from an as-yet-untitled new album, including “Suntan” - a definite summer anthem in the making - McCreery saluted many of his musical heroes including Garth Brooks, George Strait, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.
Standouts from the tribute section included a few bars of “That’s Alright Mama” followed by “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” which was a hit by both Elvis and Travis Tritt, which ended his main set on a high note.
McCreery and his band members sang some nice, close harmony on Ralph Stanley’s “Man of Constant Sorrow” as he introduced them, and later in the evening, McCreery scored big with a version of Jamey Johnson’s “In Color.”
At times the arena-scaled production seemed too big for the comfy theater; the first few numbers had the five-piece band drowning out McCreery’s distinctive deep voice. But after the tweaks were worked out, McCreery hit his stride and took the small but very enthusiastic crowd along for the ride.
Saturday’s concert was opened by another TV-show veteran as Sarah Darling, who first came to national attention in 2003 on a show called “The Entertainer” hosted by Wayne Newton, turned in a nice 30-minute set.
Later in the evening, Darling came out to join McCreery for a really nice rendition of Brooks’ “The Dance.”