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In the stands

New, sexier Tim McGraw brings hunky energy — if not his best songs — to an up close Rodeo night

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RodeoHouston, Tim McGraw concert, March 2013
The new, slimmed down and toned Tim McGraw Photo by © Chinh Phan
RodeoHouston, Tim McGraw concert, March 2013
McGraw knows how to rock the Rodeo. Photo by © Chinh Phan
RodeoHouston, Tim McGraw concert, March 2013
McGraw straddled the safety rails to give a more personal performance to some lucky fans. Photo by © Chinh Phan
RodeoHouston, Tim McGraw concert, March 2013
RodeoHouston, Tim McGraw concert, March 2013
RodeoHouston, Tim McGraw concert, March 2013
Jayme Lamm, head shot, column mug, January 2013

The new, smaller, slimmed down and toned version of what we formerly knew as Tim McGraw hit the RodeoHouston stage Friday night in a pair of jeans, a CMT-esque belt buckle, a rolled up brightly-colored button down and the quintessential cowboy hat.

What McGraw's anticlimactic and subpar 14-song set list lacked, the 45-year-old country star made up for with energy. Lots of energy and fittingly so at Reliant Stadium.

 Perhaps it was the new fit Tim McGraw many of us were just seeing for the first time, but he seemed to enjoy sprinting laps around Reliant almost as much as Arian Foster. 

With 12 albums to choose from and a beaucoup of No. 1 hits (try 21), the song choice could have been so much more entertaining given McGraw's vault of musical genius, but the energy the singer/songwriter/actor brought to the stage was unparalleled, even compared to Bruno Mars record-setting Thursday night performance. Playing only one song ("Where The Green Grass Grows") from his Greatest Hits album released in 2000, McGraw, the beloved veteran, seemed to take the route of a superstar underdog foregoing some of his most popular hits, "Don't Take The Girl" or "Indian Outlaw," just to name a few.

The best part of McGraw's energy-filled performance was his total disregard for the infamous rotating stage at Reliant. While he may have avoided and neglected the stage, he took the complete opposite approach toward the 71,534 screaming fans in the stands. In his seventh appearance at RodeoHouston, McGraw was clearly at home not only on the big stage, but on the Houston scene as well.

Making it a point to avoid the round and round stage, McGraw, spent much of his 60-minute performance running around the outskirts of the stage, onto the dirt grounds. He high-fived just about every fan sitting in the front rows of the entire stadium, even taking time to straddle the safety rails to give a more up close and personal performance to some lucky fans.

Perhaps it was the new fit Tim McGraw many of us were just seeing for the first time, but he seemed to enjoy sprinting laps around Reliant almost as much as Arian Foster.

With over two decades of experience performing on stage, the veteran icon wasn't shy about telling the Houston crowd he wanted more enthusiasm. Taking a minute to say hello to his "close friends" in the stands, he also gave a big hello to his "good buddy," and hometown favorite, Clay Walker.

The 14-song-set list was apparently cut short by one song, skipping out on Southern Girls, presumably because McGraw spent so much time running around with fans and getting as close to their seats as the RodeoHouston setup allows. He simply had to make a cut on the fly, but unless you had the song list in advance, you wouldn't have noticed.

It's safe to say: McGraw had just as much fun running routes during his concert, acting as if he was reenacting a scene from Friday Night Lights or the Houston Texans record-setting 2012 season, as the fans did in the stands. It was a win-win for all.

And yes Tim, it was in fact, one of those nights. And we thank you for that.

Set List:

"Lips"

"For a Little While"

"Farm"

"One Of Those Nights"

"Green Grass"

"Nashville"

"Mexicoma"

"Let It Go"

"Real Good Man"

"All I Want"

"Two Lanes of Freedom"

"BBQ"

"Live Like You Were Dying"

"Truck Yeah"

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