JASON ALDEAN - FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE
MARGARET COURT ARENA MELBOURNE
TAKE A TEST MARIA AND A FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE PRAYER
The ball boys and girls and drug testers has long decamped the scene of Maria's reported crime when Georgian star Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line took centre stage at Margaret Court Arena on this hot March night.
It was just hours after Russian born tennis ace Maria Sharapova confessed she had tested positive at the Australian Open in January for the recently banned performance enhancing drug Meldonium.
Maria, 28, admitted she used Meldonium - not to be confused with Meldrum - to boost magnesium deficiencies and combat family diabetes and heart ailments.
But there was no obvious drug testing on centre court for these visiting country stars debut at their chosen scene of the rhyme.
Christian duo Florida Georgia Line's high energy performance was boosted by pre-concert prayers deep below in the backstage bowels of Margaret's court with band members and their entourage.
It was not clear if they said a prayer for Maria but they peppered their tunes with high levels of sugar aimed at the heart.
The chart topping duo's 14 song set began with It's Just What We Do and Round Here.
Although their record company hasn't serviced their albums I can report my familiarity with some songs from their exposure on Nu Country TV in the months leading up to their arrival.
The duo's country pop was delivered with panache with two guitarists, bassist, keyboard player and drummer in the driving seat.
Singers Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard broke up their generic patter about the pronunciation of Melbourne and the native heat with invitations to crowd dancing.
The capacity crowd, testament to the pulling power of Pay and community TV and niche radio outlets, ensured easy access.
Party People and second album title track Anything Goes enabled enthusiastic fans from a vast demographic to emulate their idols as they segued into Smile and Black Stone Cherry cover Stay.
The duo's autobiographical Confession , accompanied by a memorable time travel video clip when released, was as familiar as Sippin' On Fire and Bumpin' The Night , to fans well acquainted with the lyrics.
The visual highlight was Dirt with an evocative big screen video tracing life from childhood to death when we all return to the earth.
This was Florida Georgia Line proving the depth of their best songs.
Their affinity with younger fans was reflected in party anthems like fifth single This Is How We Roll , originally released with Georgian star Luke Bryan,
Equally accessible were Sun Daze and Get Your Shine On with the duo's appeal to the captive audience to reflect the ignition theme with rapid response in the form of cigarette lighters and mobile phones.
It seemed most spectators in the ever growing mosh pit on the floor were willing participants.
This, of course, defied visual messages in the foyer that audio and video recording and still photography was not permitted in the court confines.
It would seem that most fans with phones were taking band photos, selfies and some even had the audacity to record the concert for social media and posterity.
So it was no surprise the band finished its energetic set with breakthrough hit Cruise, penned with Florida born Chase Rice who joined them at CMC Rocks Queensland in Ipswich on the long weekend.
GEORGIA ON JASON'S MIND
Georgian Jason Aldean had the benefit of even more audience familiarity with his sixth album Old Boots, New Dirt and live Night Train To Georgia DVD being belatedly released here on major label Sony after originally surfacing on indie label Broken Bow .
The burly 39 year-old had a fitting entrée Just Getting' Started and Gonna Know We're Here.
Aldean had similar musical accompaniment to FGL with two guitars, bass, keyboards and drums but seemed to impact more with his audio and visual dynamics.
He reached back into his career for Take A Little Ride and Ashley Monroe penned The Truth from his fourth album Wide Open before his DVD title track Night Train .
Aldean reinforced his connections with his vast cast of rural rooted fans with dynamic delivery of the David Lee Murphy-Jim Collins written hit Big Green Tractor and Tattoos On This Town - one of three songs for this set with town in the title.
This was apt as there were plenty of tattoos in the audience and he advised fans it was going to be a long night and they should report in sick for work tomorrow.
He advised them even though it was only Tuesday but it was his first Australian concert and I'm sure “y'all would like to party.”
Aldean, who had an acting role in the Ed Harris-January Jones western movie Sweetwater , also impacted with the satiric blue collar anthem Fly Over States that lampoons elitist jet setters with little appreciation of the farmers and truckers toiling way down below on earth.
Tonight Looks Good On You - a sibling song of sorts of Texan Gene Watson's historic hit Nothing Sure Looks Good On You - was delivered as a romantic requiem .
The singer revealed original partners Eric Church and Luke Bryan on his hit The Only Way I Know could not be here so it was no surprise to see Florida Georgia Line return to stage to share vocal duties.
Aldean also revived his tribute to Oklahoma honky tonk hero Joe Diffie in embryonic hit 1994 .
This was unfortunately a fist thumping song for some patrons - including two beefy gents brandishing beers who chose to take a pit stop in the vacant seats next to me as they descended to the floor mosh pit.
They were eminently polite about it.
“We had to go upstairs to have a piss and refuel,” my immediate, but luckily temporary neighbour, told me before he fist punched his way back to the dance floor.
It was that sort of night with not an usher in sight.
By then Aldean returned to Texas with the visually appealing Amarillo Sky and some hick hop with Brantley Gilbert's My Kinda Party , accompanied by swirling strobe lighting that also earned its own warning in the foyer, and She's Country .
Aldean was again turbo charged on his cover of another Colt Ford hick hop tune Dirt Road Anthem.
Then it was time for the second town tune - the Big & Rich penned Hicktown with the memorable lyrics “well, you can see the neighbour's butt crack, nailing on his shingles /and his woman's smokin' Pall Malls, watchin' Laura Ingalls."
The singer earned more royalties for Florida Georgia Line concert partners Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard with his recent hit Burnin' It Down .
“It seems like a million miles from home to Australia but it's one of the coolest things in the world to travel this far to have y'all singing our songs back to us,” Aldean told vociferous fans.
And, of course, it was another town that became his concert finale - Crazy Town .
With the 32 song concert finishing well before 11 pm it seemed most patrons would not have to call in sick for work - especially not early rising dairy farmers despite their nocturnal road trips back to the distant bush.
Dairy farmers don't have sick days - good relief milkers are hard to find, even in autumn.
They had just enjoyed the milk of human kindness and cream of the country pop crop in the big smoke.
Review by David Dawson.