Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry

First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown PA, Sept. 6, 2013

by Michael Rampa


Rascal Flatts’ annual September stop at First Niagara Pavilion is a bittersweet occasion. They bring one of the summer’s glitziest tours to the region. However, it commences the wind-down of the outdoor concert season. But what a way to begin the end on Friday night. The Ohio trio- (guitarist Joe Don Rooney, singer Gary LeVox and bassist Jay DeMarcus) teamed up with fellow crossover stars, The Band Perry, for an electrifying evening. Both bands played generous sets packed with chart topping hits and a few choice covers. The drama built before the Flatts even appeared onstage. At promptly 9:16, a four minute countdown clock on giant screens  showed clips from the band’s top hits, After the big reveal, they opened with a cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is A Highway” that Rooney scorched with a Les Paul. The stage featured five video screens and an impressive lighting display shaped like the Guggenheim. LeVox’s nasally tenor is one of country’s most recognizable voices and more than did justice to the early Bruno Mars cover of “When I Was Your Man” The show really hit stride when he belted out 200’s hit, “This Everyday Love.” He was full of quips and local references all night, tailoring lyrics to Pittsburgh to the delight of the packed venue. The band is considered as much pop as country. Indeed, the atmosphere bucks the country stereotype. With one of the most devoted fan bases around, there is little drinking and rowdiness but a lot of enthusiastic sing along and young children. Rooney and DeMarcus are both accomplished multi- instrumentalists and showcased their talents on a mid-set sit down medley that included a high octane duet of “Easy” with opener and Season Three “The Voice” winner Cassadee Pope. The rousing encore closed fittingly with “Summer Nights.” There may not be many left.



The Band Perry entered dramatically with their initials emblazoned on a trio of LED screens to perform “Done”. Led by the infectiously charismatic blonde bombshell Kimberly, the trio is as rock as they are country. They performed all their hits.” If I Die Young” featured the audience singing the verses unaccompanied by the band. Their best numbers feature brothers Neil and Reid on guitar and mandolin.  “We are a sibling group. Kimberly quipped,”We spend 23 hours a day getting on each other’s nerves in a tour bus. This is the only time we have to cut loose.

Pope bears more than a passing physical and vocal resemblance to superstar Martina McBride and was enthusiastically received in a typically apathetic time slot.