Brad Paisley is perhaps the king of country music videos, so it’s no surprise that his tours are eye-popping productions.
The country singer and guitar-slinger didn’t spare the special effects in a fast-paced performance on for nearly two hours on Saturday at Amway Center. It’s called the “Beat This Winter” tour and the hot guitar licks and extravagant light show combined to turn up the arena’s thermostat.
Paisley opened with a bang, bolstering the thunderous rock beat of “Southern Comfort Zone” with dazzling laser images of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Coliseum in Rome and other global landmarks.
Although the song revolves around homesickness for Southern roots, the pounding beat that almost obscured Paisley’s voice isn’t the most authentic nod to Nashville style. Still, it was something to see.
So was the sea of laser stars and comic-book art behind “American Saturday Night,” a Springsteen-worthy arena rocker. Later, there were video cameos by William Shatner, country band Alabama, NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon and a Paisley duet with a Carrie Underwood hologram.
In a surprise, the members of Rascal Flatts took the stage in person to sing along on Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and do the band’s own “Fast Cars and Freedom.”
Paisley’s old-school country side was evident in “This is Country Music,” an anthem embellished by images of Johnny Cash, George Jones and others.
It’s hard to imagine them singing video-driven hits such as “Celebrity,” but Paisley’s novelty songs work because his “aw shucks” approach humanizes the gimmicky stuff.
There were no flashy videos to accompany the opening set by Danielle Bradbery, teenage winner of the fourth season of NBC’s “The Voice.”
The 17-year-old impressed with “The Heart of Dixie” and other songs. She’s like Taylor Swift, only with a powerful voice – and without the perpetual broken heart.
She was followed by Chris Young, whose career was launched by his 2006 triumph on the USA Network show “Nashville Star.” Sometimes, he made the ill-advised decision to rock out, but otherwise played solid country songs, including “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and “Voices.”
Paisley strayed too far sometimes, most notably to needlessly tackle Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.”
Otherwise, his country hybrid is formidable enough to leave the videos behind.