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Alan Jackson Finally In Europe!

Posted by: Petr Mecir

photo: CountryZone.net
Journal 03/06/2010

Even though some American country music artists appear to play in Germany or Switzerland from time to time, it's quite common that the major stars don't usually tour Europe. When the news came that Alan Jackson was coming on tour to Europe after 19 years and would also play in Aarhus, Denmark, only a 9-hour drive from Prague, it looked like a miracle. Since all other concerts were taking place in Norway and Sweden, it was easy to predict that the Dannish tickets will be the hottest and will be the subject of interest especially among the Germans, Swiss, French and country fans from other country for whom Scandinavia is out of reach. As expected, 20,000 tickets for the Norwegian show sold out in just 3 days, but the hottest Dannish tickets didn't sell at all for indescribable reasons and the promoter eventually cancelled the show in Denmark and added another one in Norway. The few sold Dannish tickets could be refunded or used for any show in Norway or Sweden. Since attending Alan Jackson's concert in Europe was an absolutely unique opportunity, the refund was out of the question and after evaluating all options I decided to travel to Sweden.

Alan JacksonThe show took place at a venue which was located in the woods 6 miles from Eskilstuna (90 miles west of Stockholm). Organising a last minute trip was quite complicated. First, there were no flight tickets available, so I had to go by bus, and secondly, in the area of 20 miles around the show there was no accommodation available, everything was fully booked. So I packed my sleeping bag and a ground sheet and the night prior to my departure I ended up studying Swedish laws about camping and the wildlife. However, I was lucky and after traveling 35 hours I found a camp close to the venue. Alan Jackson fans from all over Sweden were already calmping there, having fun, grilling, a different Alan Jackson song was playing from every other car, and the atmosphere was just great. There were 6,000 people attending the concert as there was a special entrance for the Danish tickets holders, it could be seen, that only 20 die-hard fans didn't refund the tickets and went to Sweden. After performances of a few local bands there was an official opening act, a Scandinavian starr Jil Johnson. She wasn't that bad but everybody was there to see THE MAN.

After a technical break a well-known faces started to appear on stage - the members of Alan's touring band the Strayhorns - drummer Bruce Rutherford, lead guitar player Danny Groah, bass player Roger Wills, steel guitar player Robbie Flint, fiddle player Mark McClurg and others. I was trying to get as close to the stage as possible and hoping to say hello to my buddy Monty Lane Allen, who plays acoustic Alan Jacksonguitar and whom I visited in his house in Nashville the previous year. When Monty spotted me, we wanted to jump off the stage but then he stopped as it was higher than 3 meters, so he turned around and disappreared. A few seconds later he was right next to me, it was a really wonderful get-together. I asked Monty if he could introduce me to the band, but he said it wasn't possible as they were leaving riht after the show andd then added: "Let's do it now, follow me!" So just a few moments before the show I appeared to be on the main stage with 6,000 people staring at me and Monty introduced me to the Strayhorns one by one and took a picture of me with each of them. When we approached Roger Bob Wills and he looked at me and said "hi Peter", I couldn't believe my ears. We exchanged a few messages on MySpace years ago and he still recognized me. Roger gave me a few AJ guitar picks, which Alan always throws to the crowd and Monty took me back to the audience and told me to come to the stage after the show that he would give me the setlist from the stage. I was sitting back in the audience, my mind was on cloud nine and the show didn't even start yet.

After a monumental countdown the people started screaming as Alan walked on stage. He waved to the crowd and started playing "Gone Country." As Alan and the band was playing, behind them there were huge screen that were showing music videos and other visualisations. Alan aparently wanted to please the Swedish audience and he was putting the name of their country in the sAlan Jacksonongs whenever he could - "small town Swedish man" (Small Town Southern Man), "Swedish roads" (Good Time) or "sweet Swedish woman" (Country Boy). The AJ team also worked very hard on the video for "Small Town Southern Man" and they were showing scenes from Swedish countryside and the video concluded with the city sign of Eskilstuna, where the show took place. The sound system was perfect and Alan sounded just like from a CD. What can't be heard on a CD, though, are special live versions of some songs like Robbie Flint's rock intro to "Dont't Rock The Jukebox" or an extended version of "Mercury Blues" with superb drums and bass solos. Alan picked more uptempo material for his European tour such as "Tall, Tall Trees", "Little Bitty", "She's Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues)" and "I Don't Even Know Your Name". He aparently skipped tunes that weren't very relevant for European audiences such as "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" or "To Do What I Do". An hour and a half passed incrediblyl fast and there came the huge finale with "Chattahoochee" and "Where I Come From" with Alan throwing dozens of guitar picks in the audience. As en encore they played the famous wild version of "Mercury Blues". After the show I said goodbye to Monty Lane Allen, who gave me the setlist as promised. Not only did I get a precious souvenir, but I could also see funny abbreviations that AJ and the band use for some songs. The most amusing was the song title "toothless", which naturally meant "I Don't Even Know Your Name" and related to the toothless waitress from the famous music video.

Alan JacksonBeing able to see Alan Jackson live was an incredible experience and the complicated trip from Liberec, Czech Republic to the Swedish countryside was absolutely worthy. It was very clear that the US country music business takes Scandinavian country fans seriously and Arista Nashville even released a special Alan Jakcson CD titled "Norwegian Favorites". Since other country artists closely watch overseas tours in Europe and Australia like this one, they will certainly follow these sold out megashows in Norway and Sweden as well. Unfortunately they might also take in account the cancelled show in Denmark, which sent a clear signal to keep focusing on northern Europe only. What a use, we'll just have to travel a little more to see a good show.

 

 

SetlistSETLIST:
01 Gone Country
02 I Don't Know Even Know Your Name
03 Summertime Blues
04 Pop A Top
05 Like Red On A Rose
06 Tall Tall Trees
07 Small Town Southern Man
08 She's Got The Rhythm And I Got The Blues
09 Little Bitty
10 A Woman's Love
11 The Blues Man
12 Don't Rock The Jukebox
13 Remember When
14 Drive (For Daddy Gene)
15 Country Boy
16 Good Time
17 It's Five O'clock Somewhere
18 Chattahoochee
19 Where I Come From

ENCORE:
20 Mercury Blues

 

 

 

(C) Petr Mecir 2011. All rights reserved.