You know what they say about Chicago: If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes.
The weather gods had their way with the capacity crowd at Wrigley Field when Jason Aldean brought his Night Train tour to the Friendly Confines during a particularly scorching week in July. A full-out downpour accompanied the country star and, for once, those in the covered cheap seats had reason to wag their fingers at those on the lawn.
Aldean admitted this was “one of the biggest shows of my career” from a massive stage in center field with huge video screens on each side to make sure there was no problem in seeing the stage action, even from the back of home plate. Starting with “Crazy Town” and “Take A Little Ride,” he let everyone know there will be no sitting down for this show. Aldean followed with hits and crowd pleasers, adding in new song “Night Train” and “1994,” the latter co-written by warm-up act Thomas Rhett. By then the rain stopped and the night turned cool. Aldean spiced up the band introductions by embarrassing them with a slideshow of their big 80’s rock hair. Finishing with himself, Aldean sported the Justin Bieber cut long before the Blackhawk logo-stomping Canadian was even born.
Kelly Clarkson returned to help on the mega-hit, “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” At that point, Aldean declared, “it’s time to get down to business” before launching into “Big Green Tractor” and “The Only Way I know.” After some 16 songs, he finished the night with “My Kinda Party” and “Hicktown” amidst more fireworks shot from both sides of the stage. By then, nearly five hours of beer and rain-soaked fun was enough. The cops were tired, the beer vendors too. The elderly Wrigley ushers were wondering how some of those girls fit into those thigh-baring shorts and Aldean staked his claim as a part of Wrigley history.
Watch out for Thomas Rhett. He kicked off the night with a short 25-minute set that killed. He’s where Aldean was a few years ago and should be on his own stage soon. He played his chart-climbing new song “It Goes Like This” to complement “Something To Do With My Hands” and “Beer With Jesus.” Jake Owen, broken hand and all, slimmed down for an equally short set. Owen’s tunes play perfect for the summer. Think of him as the next Jimmy Buffett/Kenny Chesney. He’s energetic and adept at flexing both his musical muscles and the physique that surely sold a good portion of tickets. Owen got caught in a squeeze play as Kelly Clarkson pulled the second banana spot by virtue of the 20 million albums she’s sold worldwide. She satisfied the screaming teenage girls in the audience and balanced the testosterone of the other opening acts.
— Brian Ormiston