Last weekend ZBB brought their dynamic, all-out performance to Cleveland, OH and this is what the town had to say about the night:
"Zac Brown Band is outdone by the only band that could"
By Chuck Yarbough Ė www.cleveland.com
In August 2010, when the Zac Brown Band made a surprise headlining stop at Blossom Music Center -- surprise because at that time, the band pretty much was an unknown entity north of the Mason-Dixon Line -- your humble and faithful correspondent wrote what essentially was a three-word review:
Best. Concert. Ever.
Well, as professionally painful as it is to admit, your humble and faithful correspondent lied. It was not the best concert ever. It was the SECOND best concert ever.
That's because Saturday night at Blossom, Zac and the boys outdid themselves ... and any of the other country artists who've rolled through Cuyaghoa Falls. In a season of sellout country shows at the outdoor venue, it was the perfect cap, even on a chilly night where coffee as ALMOST as popular at the concession stand as adult beverages.
It wasn't enough that Brown & Co. happen to be some of the best musicians in any genre, or that their original songs -- like "Highway 20 Ride,'' "Keep Me in Mind,'' "Free,'' "Whatever It Is'' and "Goodbye in Her Eyes'' -- are light years above the poppy claptrap emanating from much of Nashville. Or that his covers of John Mayer's "Neon'' (with intro and outro courtesy of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely'') and Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb'' or even Nirvana's "All Apologies'' made the old seem new again.
Nor was it simply the two solid hours of platinum-grade country, sung with verve and humor -- the latter especially coming from mutt-chop-sporting ZBB bassist John Driskell Hopkins on the Nirvana tune and filling in for Alan Jackson on band's hit with their fellow Georgian, "As She's Walking Away.''
Shoot, it wasn't even a stunning cover of Charlie Daniels' "Devil Went Down to Georgia,'' featuring Jimmy De Martini on fiddle, with an AK-47-on-full-auto break by Brown himself on acoustic guitar. De Martini's work on that tune was almost as impressive as his ability -- as a single instrument -- to sound like a full string section on "Whatever It Is.''
Hendrix-worthy guitar shredding by Coy Bowles and Clay Cook, the latter especially on the Floyd number, weren't the end-all, either.
Some might say that the back-and-forth interplay between drummer Chris Fryar and the band's newest member, percussionist Daniel de los Reyes, as the first encore of the night that featured 23 songs, took the cake. Or maybe even the segue from "Free'' into Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic'' and back was the night's most special moment.
And they'd all be wrong. The beauty of the night is that Brown brought not just his band, but his taste in music to Northeast Ohio. The two opening acts -- singer-songwriter Levi Lowrey and Blackberry Smoke -- both are on the label Brown founded: Southern Ground Artists. And both are better than anything mainstream country has out now.
Except, of course, the Zac Brown Band itself. Best. Group. Ever.
The guys are bringing the show to a city near you soon! Check out the complete line-up and grab your tickets here.