One hell of a show
Living your dreams seemed to be the theme of the night, and for the four members of the Eli Young Band, that is exactly what they were doing live on the RodeoHouston stage Monday evening. After a long prelude, they got the party started with “Always the Love Songs” from their 2008 album Jet Black and Jealous. Lead singer Mike Eli, born and raised a mere 35 miles down the road in Tomball, led the rest of his band with an entertaining set list comprised of both new tunes and old favorites.
Next up was another Jet Black and Jealous hit called “Radio Waves,” which immediately had the guests in the floor seats up and two-steppin’ around the stadium.
“I grew up in these parts and always dreamed about playing RodeoHouston as a kid. (Performing here) is absolutely positively a dream come true,” Eli said just before playing “Even if it Breaks Your Heart.”
“I grew up in these parts and always dreamed about playing RodeoHouston as a kid. (Performing here) is absolutely positively a dream come true,” Eli said just before playing “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” the second single off their new album Life at Best.
He emphasized how much hard work and struggle the band has been through to make their dreams a reality, and encouraged any wannabe musicians in the audience to stick it out until they could make it happen too.
The Band slowed it down a bit with a little love song called “Say Goodnight” and then launched into the song that made them famous, “When It Rains,” as the crowd sang along to every word. Eli seemed to hit his stride when the familiar hit began and started running around the stage oozing confidence.
Although Eli is the voice of the band, lead guitarist James Young is the heart and soul. He stole the show with his guitar playing and insane mop of curly hair that he whipped around with every riff. On the title track of Jet Black and Jealous, Young rocked the guitar while simultaneously playing the harmonica and you couldn’t help but ignore the other members on the stage.
They went way back to one of their early singles with “Oklahoma Girl” off of their 2005 album Level about a young Texas boy who falls in love with an Okie. Then came “Skeletons” and crowd favorite “Guinevere.” Eli reminisced about how the first shows he ever went to were when the rodeo was in the Astrodome, and every show afterwards that wasn’t on a giant rotating stage in an arena was a big disappointment. He gave a shout out to Tomball, Conroe and Humble before launching into “Small Town Kid.”
A highlight of the night was when the band performed a cover of my all-time favorite Skynard song, “Gimme Three Steps,” which they contributed to the Lynard Skynard tribute CD Sweet Home Alabama in 2010. Eli and Young jumped off the stage and ran around hugging and greeting fans as they performed. They closed out the show with their first No. 1 hit song “Crazy Girl” off their new album, and had everyone up on their feet dancing and clapping along.
Now I must admit that after seeing Alabama and Lady Antebellum perform earlier this week, the bar was set very high. The Eli Young Band has come a long way since I first saw them years ago in a little honky-tonk, performing for a room full of screaming high school girls. Reliant wasn’t nearly full, but for four guys from the University of North Texas in Denton, the Eli Young Band put on one hell of a show.