Jake Owen Shows Signs of Growth at Western Kentucky University: Live Review

Jeff Lipski

Jake Owen

The April 24 show mostly focused on cuts from Owen's 2013 album, "Days of Gold"

Jake Owen has witnessed some of the best live shows in the business, having paid his dues as the opener for such country superstars as Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. So one could only assume the RCA recording act would've picked up some tricks of the trade when it comes to entertaining a live crowd.

Having been in the audience for Owen’s stop at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green on Thursday night (April 24), The 615 can safely say that assumption would be very much on the money.

Owen took his time learning from live warriors Chesney and McGraw -- and it shows. His confidence as a live performer has grown so much since hitting the scene in 2006, and the Florida native seems to be relishing every moment -- given the undeniable energy he exudes on stage and the clear twinkle in his eye while he is in the spotlight.

Kicking the show off with “Days Of Gold,” the title cut from his latest album (and the same name of the tour), the song was a prophetic choice for the singer. He seemingly has the world on a string these days, with a growing family and a career that seems to be picking up pace with each release. The loud and raucous crowd made noise at the home of the Hilltoppers from the beginning of the track through until the very end of the night.

Owen kept the music focused on his current album, as well as 2011’s "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," though he did reach back to his first couple of albums on occasion. From "Easy Does It" (2009), he performed “Eight Second Ride,” which brought out a definite response from the show's female demographic (which was well represented), and the love ballad “Don’t Think  I Can’t Love You,” for which he led off with the story of how his grandfather first saw his grandmother not too far up Interstate 65 in Munfordville some 70 years ago. He also played “Yee Haw,” the song that brought him his first hit in 2006.

Overall, Owen and company kept things about the current sounds, and the fans reacted strongly. Whether it was the radio-friendly approach of hits like “Anywhere With You” or “The One That Got Away” to the seductive nature of “Alone With You” (which, as crazy as it might seem, sounds like it could have been a late '80s hit for Conway Twitty), fans were singing his lyrics back to him all night long -- causing the smile on his face to get even bigger as the night went on.

He also made the night of one couple -- named Seth and Sierra -- a little more special with a performance of “Heaven,” from "Barefoot Blue Jean Night." It was the song that Seth used to propose, so Owen added it to his set list after the couple specifically requested it, prompting quite a romantic dance throughout the song.

Owen gave fans plenty from the latest album, with “Tipsy,” “Drivin’ All Night” and current single “Beachin” all hitting the right spots with his fans. He took a few moments to play some of the songs that were important to him growing up, including a medley of “Friends In Low Places,” “Chattahoochee” and “Ice Ice Baby,” which brought back plenty of memories for the youthful crowd.

It’s a downright difficult task to get into the mix for an Entertainer of the Year nomination from the ACM or the CMA. After all, George Strait might be retiring from the road, but Keith, Blake, Miranda and Taylor don’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon. Be that as it might be, Owen is making a case for being included on such ballots in the future.

And, if as a live performer, he keeps growing as he has in the past, that mission will likely be a little bit closer.