Groups of fans young and old filled Nashville's Ryman Auditorium Tuesday night (Feb. 18) for Scotty McCreery's See You Tonight tour, and the former American Idol winner responded like a friend doing his best to connect with each one of them.
Even at the young age of 20, the Garner, N.C., native has the tools to do so.
Having won the 10th season of American Idol, way back in 2011, McCreery is already a sure hand at entertaining, confidently walking the line between cool for the kids and old-school for the adults. Plus, his television experience makes him comfortable onstage as he charms his admirers.
He wisely began this concert with a series of American Idol-style video diary segments, pulling fans back into his personal circle. Then, from seemingly nowhere, the star appeared on top of a video-paneled riser, dressed country-chic in jeans and a black T-shirt.
Behind the up-tempo thumping of "Now," McCreery prowled the edge of the historic stage, every now and then acknowledging the throng below of screaming girls with their outstretched arms.
Through song after song, he and the band stayed engaged with their audience, telling the story of that little show he did, remarking on the soul-healing potential of country music and generally seeming like one of the cool kids in the lunchroom.
"I Love You This Big" earned a warm reception, as did "Blue Jean Baby" and "Water Tower Town," but when it came time for "Write My Number on Your Hand," McCreery pulled out the big guns.
As video screens brought the lyrics to life, he pulled out a sharpie and began giving out digits at the foot of the stage. One by one, girls returned to their seats with the obligatory OMG reception from their friends and family.
Wishing to satisfy your curiosity, this reporter did the research and called that number (after it flashed onscreen, promise): A delightful prerecorded message from Mr. McCreery saying thanks and reminding callers about his website.
Later in the concert, McCreery restated his devotion to classic country by performing a string of covers, revealing that he sparred with producers on American Idol and joking about having nightmares over Lady Gaga's episode.
Winding things down with "The Dash", a heart-wrenching ballad dedicated to the troops, McCreery left the stage after "Buzzin'" only to return for his triumphant current single, "See You Tonight," and one last moment with his fans.
Recharged after their brush with one of the nation's chosen ones, the audience cheerfully filed out, their visit with old pal Scotty McCreery at an end.
Earlier in the night, guitar-slinging Michigan native Frankie Ballard delivered his fast-rising single "Helluva Life," asking fans if they agreed with the song's optimistic outlook, and newcomer Leah Turner kicked things off with a sassy acoustic set of original tunes.