“I feel like we probably have some catching up to do,” Blake Shelton said to the packed house during his headlining concert Friday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. It had been over two years since the country superstar’s last high-profile show in New York City, and he wasted little time reacquainting himself with his New York fan base during his nearly two-hour, 25-song set.
Shelton spent the first half of the evening working in overdrive to win over the initially calm crowd. “It’s Friday night, you better start acting like it,” he announced, instantly lifting the mood with feel-good sing-alongs on hits like “My Eyes,” “Lonely Tonight” and “Gonna.”
Though Shelton is ostensibly on tour to promote his most recent album, If I’m Honest, the multi-platinum singer stuck mainly to tried-and-true greatest hits, performing just two songs from his most recent album: the atmospheric, haunting “Came Here to Forget” and his recent single “She’s Got a Way With Words,” which so far stands as Shelton’s first single in seven years to not top the Country Airplay Chart.
Nevertheless, Shelton, performing with his seven-piece backing band, worked throughout the evening to earn the crowd’s affection, and it did not take long for the perpetual showman to completely win over audience. Just a few songs into his set, the singer asked the crowd, “Who knew there were all these country music freaks in Brooklyn?”
Throughout the night, Shelton’s easygoing charm shone, as he bantered about the difficulty of driving in New York City and reminding everyone of his role on The Voice as he critiqued the crowd’s singing capabilities. The singer continually referred to his female-dominated crowd, dedicating “Doin’ What She Likes” to “all the men who came because she wanted to come here tonight.” Later, when a man shouted out “I love you Blake” after Shelton finished performing his early live staple “‘Ol Red,” the singer responded by saying, “It’s always ‘Ol Red’ that gets the guys going.”
At his first-ever concert in Brooklyn, Shelton delivered the emotional high-point during a late-set three-song solo acoustic performance of “Nobody But Me,” “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” and a particularly inspired version of “Austin.” Shelton introduced the latter by encouraging anyone looking for a hobby to pick up the guitar, like the teenaged singer once did, and then acknowledged the importance of the song “he hasn’t gone a night without playing” since his self-titled debut was released 15 years ago. “I’ve been doing this crap a long time,” he joked.
During her opening set, RaeLynn delivered a sturdy collection of songs from her upcoming debut full-length album,
WildHorse, due later this year, including current single “Love Triangle.” The 22-year-old singer performed a variety of moody, down-tempo ballads and mid-tempo rockers, working the crowd like a seasoned headliner as she encouraged fans to bring out their cellphone lights and studiously walked the catwalks and posed for selfies with fans. Early in her set, RaeLynn showed off her pop versatility when she performed her biggest hit to date, “God Made Girls” complete with a segue into Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.”
“I heard Brooklyn is where you come to party,” RaeLynn said towards the end of her set. By the time she came out, several hours later, to join Shelton on his rousing closer “Boys Round Here,” it was clear that her hunch was right.