Chris Cagle Commands Crowd at the Wildhorse

Chris Cagle packed the dance floor and balconies at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon Saturday night (Nov. 3), but this fact was less remarkable than the zeal the Capitol Records artist ignited among his mostly young, mostly female fans.

Pressed tightly along the entire width of the stage, the crowd waved handmade signs, stretched out their arms imploringly and sang along with every one of the 15 songs Cagle performed during his hour-plus set.

Backed by a hyperkinetic seven-piece band, Cagle drew primarily from his debut album, Play It Loud, which was initially released on Virgin Records and then on Capitol after Virgin closed its country division. He opened with “My Love Goes On and On” and encored with his recent top hit, “Laredo.”

To fill out the show, Cagle did cover versions of “Hey Bartender,” “Drift Away” and “In America.” His brief comments on the songs were often drowned out by screams and applause.

Prancing, twisting, leaping and thrusting himself priapically, Cagle out-Garthed Garth — at least in the energy department. Even on the more contemplative numbers, such as “Love Between a Woman and a Man” and “Who Needs the Whiskey,” the muscular singer and his front men were in constant motion.

Cagle’s other selections were “Play It Loud,” “Ton of Love,” “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me,” “Rock the Boat,” “Lovin’ You Lovin’ Me,” “The Safe Side,” “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out” and “Country by the Grace of God.”

The most impressive moment came when Cagle held his microphone toward the audience, and the fans picked up and sang letter-perfect the entire chorus of “Laredo.”

Stretching both the boundaries of patriotism and good taste, Cagle closed his encore with a long flag-waving segment. Introducing “In America,” he roared, “This next song is dedicated to the greatest flag this world has ever seen.” He then led the crowd in chanting “USA, USA” and soon went on to drape himself –- literally — in an American flag. As calculated for cheers as all this was, the throng still hung on his every move and inflection.

When it comes to crowd control, newcomer Cagle already has his act down pat.