That is not to say that singer Kimberly Perry and her brothers Reid and Neil didn't bring the 52,050 fans at NRG Stadium what they came for at the first performance of the 2016 rodeo season.
Their set was loaded with award-winning platinum singles, Reid and Neil played to their adoring Instagram audience, and from the second she took the stage Kimberly owned those sparkling sequin pants that she was wearing. There was no lack of harmony when the group sang and the band played with a good energy that elicited many cheers from the relatively small opening night crowd.
When you consider all of the above, you would think the majority of this set was what it should have been; Rodeo veterans giving their fans a heap of familiarity with a little taste of something new. Tuesday’s show, however, was not that.
The trio could not make up its mind between playing the sincere homegrown melodies that made them a household name or a barrage of jumpy, synthesized pop. One minute, the acoustic twang of “You Lie” is filling the stadium, and another minute we’re witnessing a few verses of a Justin Bieber song and a medley of pop covers that marries The Eurythmics, Gnarls Barkley and Justin Timberlake into the pop music equivalent of a ransom note made of cut-up letters from old magazines.
These latter slew of songs made up the moments that dominated the mood throughout the show. “Live Forever” and “The Best One Yet,” both of which are new songs that the group debuted from their upcoming album Heart+Beat, sound like they were heavily influenced by the last decade of pop music without adding anything new to the canon. Producer RedOne (Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga) recently worked with the group on “Live Together.”
As if on cue, the news that the group had recently split with Big Machine Label Group, their label for most of their career, broke several hours before Tuesday’s performance. The label reportedly did not like their new sound.
Is this change of direction a good move for The Band Perry? I have no idea. That is a discussion best had on fan forums and music blogs.
Will this performance go down as one of the more memorable openers in the history of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo? Definitely not. Luckily for the Perry siblings, though, the change in direction was received warmly by the thousands of fans who came out on a Tuesday night to get this Rodeo season started, so it is pretty easy to see why this Grammy award winning group was chosen to open the annual shindig.
Kimberly even took several opportunities to acknowledge this city for supporting their first single, “Hip To My Heart.” She delivered her gratitude to Houston with such earnestness that I nearly forgave her for following it up with an unforgivable gaffe. She led into the next song by thanking...Dallas.
Perhaps the most surprising event of the night was that the show went on like that never happened.
Better Dig 2
Best One Yet
All Your Life/Love Yourself (Justin Bieber)
Don't Let Me Be Lonely
Sweet Dreams/Crazy/Sexy Back Medley (Eurythmics/Gnarls Barkley/Justin Timberlake)
Hip To My Heart
In It Together
If I Die Young
Fat Bottom Girls (Queen)