Blake Shelton is America’s favorite older brother — the kind of cool customer who’d sneak you sips of beer at the labor day cookout or let you win at tetherball sometimes.
For three seasons he has endeared himself to U.S. audiences as a smart aleck talent judge on NBC’s The Voice. But on Thursday night, in front of a Rodeo Houston crowd of 75,054 screaming fans, Blake Shelton belonged to the Bayou City. The Oklahoma native threw a boozy Texas love fest for the sold-out crowd at Reliant Stadium.
“Houston,” Mr. Shelton said into the microphone. “I love you.”
His 14-song set included early chart toppers like "Austin" and "Ol’ Red."
The old favorites drew uproarious applause from rodeo-goers, who have in recent years become familiar with Shelton. Thursday’s concert was his fourth straight Rodeo Houston appearance. Before he was a headliner on the main rodeo stage, Shelton spent his early years playing at the Hideout, which he described as "that freaking beer tent" that features live music.
But while you can take the country music star out of the beer tent, you can’t necessarily take the beer tent out of the country music star.
“Let's drink some beer and play some country music,” Shelton said into the mic, much to the approval of the crowd.
His superstar wife stole the spotlight
Nothing stirred the crowd more than a surprise appearance by Shelton’s wife, country music superstar Miranda Lambert. The audience crooned as Lambert and Shelton sang together an inspired duet of "Home." They ended the song with a smooch.
Heard it from Levine
Shelton told the audience that his fellow cast member in The Voice, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 had sparked a friendly rivalry about the Rodeo. Shelton said he sent a text message after the band’s March 13 performance.
“It said something along the lines of ‘hahaha, I played Rodeo Houston and they like me better than you. More people were at mine than there are going to be at yours,” Shelton told the crowd. “I told him that I know the people of Houston, and I happen to have a secret weapon: I play country music.”
As it turns out, the Maroon 5 frontman was right. Maroon 5 drew 60 more spectators to their concert than Shelton did,
His new single is a dud
Shelton used the concert as a chance to showcase the latest single from his album, Based on a True Story. (The song was released in January as the fourth single from the 2013 album.) But the song, “Doin' What She Likes,” didn’t seem to hold the audience’s attention. Where the stadium stayed reverently quiet during several songs and joined in for the choruses of others, the chatter of small talk grew noticeably loud during the new material.
He made a grand exit
As the final song drew to a close, Shelton stepped into the back of a Ford promotional pickup truck that was fitted with special handrails in the bed. He rode away from the stage in the Blake-mobile as fireworks burst above the stage and the stadium rumbled. White smoke still hung in the air as the lights flipped on and the seats began to clear.