Rascal Flatts are superstars of country music and they have 10 albums, 16 Number One hits and over 40 awards to prove it. Usually, you will see this powerhouse group in large arenas but I got the chance to see them in a more intimate setting at River Spirit Casino Resort’s Paradise Cove in Tulsa, OK just before the release of their much anticipated 10th album Back to Us. They definitely demonstrated exactly why they have been so successful for the last 17 years.
The trio, made up of lead singer Gary LeVox, guitar player Joe Don Rooney, and keyboard and guitar player Jay DeMarcus, had the crowd dancing right off the bat with “Fast Cars and Freedom.” They went right into “I Like the Sound of That” where they got the audience involved by singing the words back to them. And the hits just kept coming. From my personal favorite, “Banjo” (I have a slight obsession with banjos) to “Mayberry,” “Love You Out Loud,” “Summer Nights” and the tearjerker “What Hurts the Most,” the Flatts kept us entertained all night.
They performed their current single, “Yours If You Want It” and then on a whim, Jay DeMarcus took the mic and decided he wanted Gary LeVox to sing the power ballad “I Know You Won’t” from their new album Back to Us. The catch – LeVox had never sang it outside the studio, so he was caught completely off guard. DeMarcus then produced the lyric sheet to help him out. This was obviously unscripted since LeVox stumbled a little on the first verse but once he found his groove, he completely mesmerized the crowd with his gorgeous voice.
Rascal Flatts not only puts on a great show musically, but they are very interactive with the crowd and DeMarcus is downright funny when he talks to the audience in between songs. I think he could have a second career as a comedian. LeVox constantly walks the stage from one side to another and interacts with the fans on the floor. This gives life to the stage and keeps you interested throughout the show.
One of my pet peeves about a lot of concerts is whether the artists give credit and love to their band members. A lot of times they do, but then they play music while they do the introductions and you can’t hear what they say. Rascal Flatts does it right, in my opinion. They introduced each member of the band without loud music covering it up and we could actually hear their names. Many people don’t care, but I find it shows great character when an artist acknowledges those working on stage to help them shine.
Toward the end of the show, they started to play Journey’s “Open Arms.” The crowd immediately sang from the very first word. They stopped playing and LeVox jokingly chastised the audience for singing the loudest all night on a song that wasn’t a Rascal Flatts’ song. He then asked everyone to be just as loud on “God Bless the Broken Road” and they certainly obliged. The harmonies blended perfectly between the three members as DeMarcus played the keyboard and Rooney played guitar. Then LeVox took us to church as they seamlessly transitioned back into “Open Arms.”
I have been a fan of Rascal Flatts since their very first album “Prayin’ for Daylight” came out in 2000. They have teased before that they wanted to stop touring to spend more time with their families and while I understand the need and the want to do that, I hope they never completely stop playing live for their fans. They really put on a fantastic show. I judge shows based on whether I say “let’s do that again” at the end or not, and for Rascal Flatts, I always want to see them again.