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In concert: Jason Aldean at Merriweather Post Pavilion

jason aldeanJason Aldean's Friday concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion wasn't entirely smooth. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

By Scott Galupo

When Jason Aldean momentarily ditched the droning agro-country riffs of "She's Country" and "Hicktown" Friday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion for an interlude of Bryan Adams covers, he provided a handy case study in how to compromise country-rock outlaw status.

Aldean was paired last year with the raspy Canadian hitmaker for an installment of Country Music Television's "Crossroads," and Friday's reprise had the unmistakable reek of a keep-milking-it corporate gambit.

The second low moment came when Aldean bungled his war-hero tribute. Here's how not to honor the fallen: Conspicuously consult wristband for name of hero. Explain that he was killed in action somewhere, um . . . "overseas." Announce that said hero loved your song "Good to Go," but then decline to play it, suggesting that each night's set list is immutable.

jason aldean

This isn't to say Aldean, a Macon, Ga., native, utterly lacked south-of-the-Mason-Dixon authenticity. A solo acoustic rendering of "Asphalt Cowboy" revealed a sturdy voice, and "Amarillo Sky," an ode to hard-working farmers, seemed genuinely passionate. It would be interesting to hear Aldean sing something of his own rather than rely, as he does now, on gift-wrapped hooks and Nashville ghetto cliches (e.g., "Roll into town / Step off the bus" in "Crazy Town").

Somewhat incongruous, too, was Aldean's backup quintet: With the boss in straw hat and cotton shirt, the back line sported lots of tattoos and hair gel.

If, as the title of one of his big hits suggests, Aldean is accustomed to a "Big Green Tractor," his bandmates seemed to favor Camaros. Thus did the encore's full-on assault of Kid Rock's "Cowboy" bring the evening full circle.

jason aldean

jason aldean

jason aldean

By Scott Galupo  |  August 2, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Jason Aldean  
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