If country star Alan Jackson was any more laid back, he’d tip over on stage.
The 39-year-old singer stays close to the microphone stand as if clinging to a life preserver. When he does step away, Jackson doesn’t walk, he saunters.
That relaxed style hardly bothered the capacity crowd of more than 8,500 fans at the Dane County Coliseum Thursday night.
Jackson is country music’s most reliable commodity, a bona fide superstar who seems as down-to-earth as a dairy farmer.
He’s also the most shy sex symbol in any genre of music.
For a guy who looks like he was born in a white cowboy hat, Jackson never resorts to grand posturing, even when it seems every young country star today turns his show into a butt-wiggling contest.
Still, Jackson has plenty of fun and bouncy hits in his repertoire to keep things from getting too staid.
During his fine 95-minute show Thursday, he showed his lively videos – see Alan water ski, see Alan drive a race car, see Alan sling mud – on jumbo screens to spice up the presentation.
And it is remarkable how many toe-tapping major hits he’s enjoyed. He’s dominated country radio in this decade with more than a dozen upbeat favorites from “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” in 1990 to the ’97 hit “Little Bitty.”
Not surprisingly, Madison Avenue recognized Jackson’s appeal, and now he’s best known to non-country fans for singing about pickup trucks in TV ads.
Jackson closed the show with “Mercury Blues,” the catchy song from 1993 that he altered for the commercials. (He even played both versions. Yikes.) Although the swinging numbers tend to go over best in concert, Jackson remains a top-notch balladeer. “I’ll Try” and “Home” were two of Thursday’s best moments.
An acoustic portion of the show, however, was diminished because Jackson played only snippets of slow songs to cover as much material as possible.
Jackson also doesn’t change his show very much from tour to tour. As a result, he’s dangerously slipping into autopilot a bit too often.
Yet his music stays a notch above the crowded country field.
Opening act Trace Adkins is the biggest newcomer in country music. (I’m talking about his height.) Adkins stands 6-foot-6 – probably 6-foot-8 with his cowboy hat on.
He also sings with a voice deep enough to dislodge fillings from your teeth. He’s had a few hits with some very stupid titles, such as “(This Ain’t No) Thinking Thing” and “I Left Something Turned On At Home.”
It’s OK stuff, but Thursday’s crowd ate it up, giving Adkins a standing ovation.