COLUMBIA, S.C. — All those grandmas out there who prefer not to be slapped, consider yourself warned: “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” fever is still spreading, judging from Trace Adkins’ crowd-pleasing concert in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday night (Oct. 7). Jason Aldean and Billy Currington are also on the CMT-sponsored tour which launched this weekend, but the real attraction of the show is the feel-good attitude presented by all three artists.
Without a guitar strapped over his shoulder, Adkins is free to find the groove of his biggest hits, such as “I Left Something Turned On at Home,” “Rough and Ready,” “Hot Mama” and his new single, “Ladies Love Country Boys.” Despite his irreverent catalog of songs lately, Adkins emphasized that he’s nothing but sincere when singing “Arlington,” a story told from the point of view of a soldier laid to rest in the national cemetery.
“That song is about paying respect to heroes,” he told the crowd. “If you don’t know the meaning of respect, I’d be happy to volunteer my services to take you out back and show you some.” The crowd ate it up. Appropriately, he followed his remarks with a new song, “Fightin’ Words.”
However, as Adkins himself likes to say, it’s all about the badonkadonk. Ooo-eee, shut my mouth, the frenzy-inducing song has taken on a life of its own. Even the folks who sat through most of the night got up to shake their booties. At this show, Adkins prefaced the song with suggestions about the real way Eve tempted Adam, which makes you wonder if this badonkadonk thing hasn’t been around much longer than we originally suspected.
Earlier in the set, Adkins received an enormous response to “Every Light in the House,” with people passionately singing along as if it was “Live Like You Were Dying.” He grinned at the audience and remarked, “After 10 years, we still love that song, don’t we?” Later, after the R&B-styled “Ain’t No Woman Like You,” he told the audience he always tries to include a variety of songs on his albums as his hero, Ronnie Milsap, did. Then he treated the audience to a memorable version of “Stranger in My House.”
Aldean and Currington warmed up the crowd with a mix of originals and rock cover songs, from AC/DC, Marvin Gaye and even Guns N’ Roses. Both Aldean and Currington have found initial success at radio and retail, but they’re still too early in their careers to sing a half hour’s worth of hits — although they each played slightly longer than that.
Aldean is all over the stage when he performs, bringing a surprising level of audience enthusiasm for someone just starting out. The crowd recognized him from “Hicktown” and “Why,” the first two hits from his debut album. Meanwhile, Currington got the party started with his own hit, “Why, Why, Why,” followed by some album tracks and “I Got a Feelin’.” But when he launched into the sultry “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right,” you could easily witness the power of a hit single and the all-important spark and connection it provides an up-and-coming artist.
It may not be “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” but you have to start somewhere.