While his debut single might have been “Austin,” Blake Shelton had no problem showing Houston a good time Thursday, March 1 at his RodeoHouston show, his first time back in three years.
Four songs into his performance, Shelton shared a personal medical situation, and in true cowboy form, made light of it. “Let me say one thing — I’ve never done this before, but there is a flu going on around right now and I am literally at the peak of having the damn flu right now as I’m up here doing this show. I apologize if I sound like crap, but I wanted to get that out of the way. I damn sure wanted to do my part up here in Houston,” he shared amongst the screaming crowd.
The singer-songwriter-TV personality looked completely at home on the brand-new star-shaped stage, kicking off his 12-song set list with “Gonna” to the packed arena’s delight, even while battling some obvious feverish symptoms.
“It’s been like 3 years — I thought y’all were mad at me. I was nervous coming back out here,” The Voice coach joked, referencing how long it had been since he played on the rotating stage in Houston.
As he's done the past 15 years of his career, Shelton let his country twang, lyrics, and stage presence serve as his obligatory nod to country music. No cowboy hat, no studded jeans or studded belt (ahem, Luke Bryan!), just good ole country singing with some real talk between songs.
“Let’s do a sexy drinking song,” the country singer said before singing his hit “Sangria.” Afterwards, the star raised his RodeoHouston plastic cup, and offered a toast “to country music.” (Not like you had to twist the arm of Houston fans to cheer on anything the 41-year-old had to say on stage.)
“It’d be a crime not to try something brand new — tell me what you think,” he prefaced before playing his new radio single “I’ll Name The Dogs.” With the crowd cheering even louder than before, Shelton finished with, “y’all are just cheering because you feel sorry for me,” which was met with the loudest cheers of the night.
“A bunch of damn hillbillies” is how Shelton referred to the crowd — as a bunch of people sitting around watching a man with the flu, but he reveled in the moment, and throughout his entire set. It seemed he made a mental note to put forth his best efforts, to ensure he'd be part of RodeoHouston every year — rather than every three years. Shelton came across as a man with a mission, a love for all things country music, and the Lone Star State. Fans couldn't ask for anything more.
Giving himself a little break on stage, Shelton let his fiddle player Jenee Fleenor, a Texas native, take center stage for a few minutes. It's hard to tell if the crowd was more impressed with the fact she was a local gal, or an epic fiddler.
"There's no way I can play in Texas and not do this next song, but there's a super good chance I'm going to suck when I sing it, so please, please, if y'all know the words of this song, in the name of God, sing along with me," Shelton pleaded, before playing his debut hit, "Austin."
Houston fans weren’t the only ones wishing Shelton a good show. Longtime celebrity girlfriend, Gwen Stefani took to Instagram a few hours before he hit the stage to wish him well.
Shelton’s Set List:
I’ll Name The Dogs
Every Time I Hear That Song
Guy With a Girl
Came Here To Forget
Boys ’round Here
Encore: God Gave Me You
Shelton heads straight to Dallas to join Trace Adkins, Carly Pearce, and Brett Eldredge as he continues his Country Music Freaks Tour. And fans can catch him on The Voice Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC.
Hopefully it isn’t three more years before he's welcomed back on RodeoHouston’s legendary dirt.