At last December’s American Country Countdown Awards, Kip Moore went for the post-cocktail party look, all French cuffs and tuxedo pants, to sing his hit ballad “Hey Pretty Girl.” It worked, but even with an undone bowtie, Moore couldn’t help but appear a little uncomfortable. Last night, however, the unconventional-for-country singer-songwriter was totally in his element, even in the normally staid environs of late-night TV.
Making his Jimmy Kimmel debut, Moore, in a sleeveless shirt and a bandana tied around his head, looked like the mechanic down the street. But there was nothing mechanical about the Georgia native’s performance of “Come and Get It,” a standout track from his stellar new album Wild Ones. Opening with a chugging guitar riff, the song is the epitome of the slow burn, with Moore barking out “tonight, tonight” until he and his vice-tight band explode into the titular chorus.
These days, Springsteen allusions are tossed around all too regularly in country music. But Moore earned any comparison last night on Kimmel’s stage — country purists be damned, this was bar-band rock & roll of the Jersey order, and he made the case on national TV that both genres can coexist. His “come on, baby” exhortation around the three-minute mark seals the deal, exhibiting the spontaneity that country performances in front of a camera can often lack. It helped too that he shouldered his own guitar, exuding raw power in both his playing and his gruff, husky vocal.
“I will not stand on stage and pretend to be something I’m not. I won’t do it, and I never will,” Moore told Rolling Stone Country in August. With the impassioned “Come and Get It,” he more than lived up to those words.
Moore performs tomorrow night in New Orleans, before a homecoming gig Saturday night in Alpharetta, Georgia.