Rascal Flatts / Jan. 18, 2008 / New York (Madison Square Garden)
Last time Rascal Flatts played New York's Madison Square Garden in 2006 for the Me and My Gang tour, vocalist Gary LeVox ribbed that "only 12 people" attended. This time around, though, a sold-out croLast time Rascal Flatts played New York's Madison Square Garden in 2006 for the Me and My Gang tour, vocalist Gary LeVox ribbed that "only 12 people" attended. This time around, though, a sold-out crowd welcomed the trio of LeVox, Jay Demarcus and Joe Don Rooney when they took the stage on Jan. 18.
While the enthusiasm might not have matched that of, say, an arena full of Midwesterners who spent two hours tailgating in the parking lot prior to the show, it got as country as it gets in the Big Apple. And, all things considered, "country" is a relative term when it comes to Rascal Flatts. There are enough songs about dirt roads, fast cars and women to satisfy the "country" palate, but there are just as many catchy pop hooks, soothing harmonies and heartwarming ballads to please any listener in the AC market -- which is exactly why the group is so mass-appealing, as evidenced by the sales of its latest chart-topping Lyric Street effort "Still Feels Good".
The night's set at MSG featured choice cuts from the album such as the soaring hit single "Take Me There," the slow-burning "Winner at a Losing Game" and the guitar-sprawling, energetic title track.
Rascal Flatts also rolled through audience favorites such the empowering anthem "Stand," an amped-up take on the undeniably catchy "These Days" and "What Hurts the Most," after which a line of Marines filed out onto the stage to salute America.
The set was short, sweet and as entertaining as Rascal Flatts consistently promises. The encore concluded with a cover of Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway," which was featured on the soundtrack to Disney's "Cars," leaving the audience roaring with applause.
Opening the night was former "American Idol" sweetheart Kellie Pickler, who expectedly gabbed with the audience as much as she sang. Love her or hate her, there's no denying the 21-year-old has a decent set of pipes, and she hit all the right notes on her cover of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5," the bittersweet ballad "I Wonder" and sassy single "Red High Heels."
Here is Rascal Flatts' set:
"Me and My Gang"
"Fast Cars and Freedom"
"Take me There"
"To Make Her Love Me"
"Too Good is True"
"Winner at a Losing Game"
"Feels Like Today"
"Bless the Broken Road"
"Still Feels Good"
"What Hurts the Most"
"Here's to You"
"Life is a Highway"