I know the usual rule is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” however in this case I just can’t comply! Spending an evening watching 3 different Southern Ground recording artists perform is just too good to keep quiet about. Friday night, January 20th, the Mandalay Bay Hotel played host to Zac Brown Band along with Sonia Leigh and Nic Cowan. All of these artists brought everything they had to what looked to be a sold out crowd. The stadium was filled with excited fans just waiting to hear their favorite song. The show started with Nic Cowan at 7p.m. and ended with Zac Brown Band at about 10:45 p.m. The time literally flew by with these artists rolling out one great song after another.
Nic Cowan, an artist from Atlanta, kicked off the night with “Wrong Side.” It was an upbeat tune that set the pace for a fun evening and got the crowd on their feet. He continued by dishing out other tracks from his album “Hard Headed” that came out in the summer of 2011. In addition he tried out a new song on the crowd called “Illumination.”
Next up was Sonia Leigh. With her country/rock sound, edgy voice and guitar skills she quickly had the crowd singing along to her big hit “My Name is Money.” Her album “1978 December” is out now and she treated us to a live version of her next single to hit country radio, “ Bar.”
After a short set change the lights dimmed once again and this time the crowd went completely wild. It was now time for the main course! The curtain lifted, music started, fans stood up cheering and Zac Brown Band took the stage. They started with their 9th consecutive #1 single, “Keep Me in Mind!” I am a huge fan of this song, and hearing it live made me love it even more. The sound in the arena was fantastic and Zac and the band were spot on! The night continued with one hit after another. They played “Knee Deep,” “Highway 20 Ride,” and “Quiet Your Mind” just to name a few; all with amazing instrumentation and fans proudly singing along. The band has a new single out on country radio called “No Hurry.” They played it for us, and if their track record is any indication this one is going to be a big hit. The band also introduced the enthusiastic Vegas crowd to a new song. Zac wrote it with Nic Cowen and it is called “Guitar in My Hand.” It is always exciting to hear a “sneak peak” at a concert and this was no exception. This song had great lyrics and a memorable sound.
The whole show was fantastic, but there were definitely some “WOW” moments. The first was the band’s rendition of the Charlie Daniels classic “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Charlie is the master and you would think no one could touch this one, but lets just say Zac Brown Band held their own and then some. His intensity during the song was remarkable and the band was on fire. Another standout song was “Free/Into the Mystic.” I love how Zac has taken his song and infused it with the Van Morrison classic. It suits the song perfectly and highlights his guitar playing. The uniqueness takes an already great song and makes it even more mesmerizing. During this song they also had footage playing in the background of military troops. This was a great tribute to the men and women who serve our country. Zac also took a moment to talk about something he is very passionate about. He is creating Camp Southern Ground in Georgia. The facility will help children with developmental disorders. He is avid about helping children and knows this camp will greatly benefit them.
After playing 17 songs and ending with “Make This Day” Zac Brown Band said goodnight. When they left the stage the fans kept cheering, feet were stomping and hands were clapping. Clearly the band knew we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. Lucky for us, neither were they. They came back out and did a cover of the Marshall Tucker Band’s song “Can’t you See.” This was really well done and every band member was suburb. Zac has an amazing voice and is quite a guitar player, but his band also deserves a lot of credit. Jimmy De Martini, John Driskell Hopkins, Coy Bowles, Clay Cook and Chris Fryar all did an incredible job. Finally the night did have to come to an end. The band started with “America the Beautiful” and then went into “Chicken Fried.” This is the song that made the band popular and it is just as loved today as when it first came out. I went to this show a fan of Zac Brown Band, but seeing them live made me like them even more. I think the part that struck me the most is how much fun they were having on stage. You just have to love watching people who truly love their job. That “feel good” feeling is extremely contagious. If Zac Brown Band comes to your town I would say it is a show you shouldn’t miss.
Zac Brown Band Set List
“Keep Me in Mind”
“It is Not OK”
“I Play the Road”
“As She’s Walking Away”
“Highway 20 Ride”
“Quiet Your Mind”
“Free/Into the Mystic”
“Where the Boat Leaves From” (which he added in a few lines from “Islands in the Stream”)
“Devil Went Down to Georgia”
“Guitar In My Hand”
“Sic ‘Em On a Chicken”
“Make This Day”
“Can’t You See”
CMTT Music Contributor