Live Review: Aaron Lewis – Pechanga Casino and Resort Temecula, CA
Sun, 22 Jan 2012 11:44:29
Modern country music needed a genuine rebel.
Instead, it got something more. It got Aaron Lewis. During his solo acoustic shows and on his forthcoming new album, Lewis embodies the spirit of timeless country, continuing a long line perpetuated by the likes of George Jones, Waylon Jennings, and Hank Williams, Jr. He doesn't mince words. He speaks the truth, and his honesty reverberates via every single song he commits to tape. Last night at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA, Lewis gave a packed house a live peek at his upcoming record, debuting the entire slate on stage.
Walking to the center of the stage, Lewis spoke amid uncontainable applause.
"We're going to start the show off with a whole bunch of new songs," he went on. "There are a couple of them that I wrote yesterday. There are a couple I wrote the day before yesterday. There are some I wrote on Monday. They're all on my new album."
An audience member yelled out a request for "Rooster" to which Lewis slyly replied, "Yeah, that's not on it."
Laughs abounded at his quick witted remarks as the tone smoothly switched gears into "75". With his cohort Ben Kitterman [Like Ben on Facebook] on the slide guitar, Lewis instantly pulled everyone into his world.
Kitterman's flawless accompaniment sounded like Jimmy Page playing from the heart of Nashville as Lewis delivered a powerful, poetic story of longing for home from the road. Despite only being played live thus far, "75" sparked a sing-a-long that reinforced the magic of the tune.
Adopting a natural twang, Lewis then delivered the propulsive new highway anthem, "The Road". Its dusty country simply transfixed as Kitterman shredded the dobro while Lewis pushed the genre forward and simultaneously paid homage to its traditions.
"Let's Have a Party in Hell" commenced with an almost melancholic visual of the singer speaking to St. Peter before the cathartic elevator dropped straight to a raucous good time in hell replete with a hilarious Rick James cocaine reference. It's smart, sharp, and soulful. Its undyingly catchy refrain was met with unanimous crowd adoration as well. The tune exhibited just how multi-faceted Lewis is and how much he's grown as a storyteller.
Dropping a water bottle, an audience member yelled, "Party foul". Lewis smirked, "It's just water." The fan added, "Still a party foul".
"If you're running a marathon," Lewis fired back. After another drag of his cigarette, the singer jested, "I probably wouldn't do very good in a marathon."
He's like a cross between Denis Leary, Johnny Cash, and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. Then, he launched into another new gem entitled "Lessons Learned". His voice resounded divinely with a bass-y inflection that brought him to new heights as Kitterman's masterful playing enveloped the tune. Lyrics proved more intimate than ever as he confessed, "There's times I talked to God like he's my only friend."
"Red White and Blue" is like Lewis's own "Star Spangled Banner" while another story about "Grandaddy's Gun" felt as timeless as anything by good ole Hank. That brought us to "Forever".
In many ways, "Forever" stands out as his most revealing track to date. Smoke billowed from the ash tray next to him as he relayed a sonic story of "drifting apart together" only to flip things around as a testament to true love at the end. It was utterly divine in the same way that "It's Been Awhile" or "Outside" are. Finishing up with the beautiful ode to everyone's favorite season, "Summertime", he had the audience sing longtime buddy Pete Ricci happy birthday. Then, Aaron tossed his new lyrics laughing, "You just heard my whole new record".
Alongside his partner in crime Kitterman, Lewis gave the crowd a heartfelt "Tangled Up In You". It remains the ultimate modern love song echoing gorgeously through the night. "Country Boy" received adoration equal to Staind mainstays "Zoe Jane", "Outside", and finale "It's Been A While".
Lewis's sense of humor still can rile up any crowd, especially with the salvo of gross-out road stories that would've made Howard Stern blush that he shared.
There aren't any rules for Lewis. He came from one of the most successful modern rock bands and has taken Nashville by storm. Still, he stays true to who he is. This "Country Boy" will be remembered forever as the man who could do it all and more.
Were you there?
More on Aaron Lewis and Staind:
See Aaron Lewis's top acoustic songs here!
Read our review of Aaron Lewis's debut solo EP, Town Line!
Check out our exclusive interview with Aaron Lewis of Staind and Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot together!
See Aaron Lewis perform "75" acoustically exclusively for ARTISTdirect.com here!
See Aaron Lewis perform "Country Boy" acoustically exclusively for ARTISTdirect.com!
Watch our exclusive interview with Aaron Lewis about Town Line
Watch another interview with Aaron Lewis!
Read our interview with Aaron Lewis in Nashville while recording the album here!
Read our review of "Staind"!