The Band Perry's set short-circuited by thunderstorm

Kimberly Perry performs at the Maryland State Fairgrounds before rain forced the cancellation of the show.
Kimberly Perry performs at the Maryland State Fairgrounds before rain forced the cancellation of the show. (Special to the Sun/Photo by Brendan Cavanaugh)

First was the heavy rain, forcing Maryland State Fair attendees awaiting the Band Perry to take cover in the grandstand of the racetrack and delaying the popular country band's set for more than an hour.

Then, seven songs into the show Saturday night, flashes of lightning sent Kimberly Perry and her brothers Neil and Reid, along with their four-piece backing band, searching for cover. Following another delay of about 20 minutes, it was announced that the remainder of the show would be canceled, drawing a smattering of boos from the disappointed crowd.

"The Band Perry made every attempt to get the show in. There was a delay waiting until the first storm passed. The band came back and played for approximately 35 minutes while continuing to track the weather," Maryland State Fairgrounds President and General Manager Howard "Max" Mosner said in an email statement. "With the amount of lightning in the area, the Band Perry, the concert manager and the state fair decided for safety reasons that they could not continue to play."

In the brief time it did perform, the Band Perry put on a lively and engaging set of Southern-fried country-rock that has won over fans and driven the band's self-titled debut album platinum. As the band took the stage, a brief introductory video montage played, featuring the siblings Perry informing the crowd that their father used to put them to bed with the Rolling Stones while their mother would wake them up with Loretta Lynn — diverse influences that are apparent in their own work.

On "Independence," a song featuring Springsteenesque lyrical nods to breaking out of small-town despair, the band slipped in the first verse and chorus of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" as the song drew to a close — a transition that was smooth and natural. The musicians strived to straddle the line between the two genres and showed they were up to the task, with a muscular sound that featured drums, two guitars, a fiddle and a keyboard backing Neil on mandolin, Reid on bass guitar and Kimberly, more often than not, on acoustic guitar.

As a front woman, Kimberly Perry proved incredibly dynamic, working all parts of the stage and singing fully and clearly with the right intonation. On the kiss-off "Miss You Being Gone," she was all charisma and independent-woman sass. Freed from her guitar duties on "Under the Bus," she took complete ownership of the stage, strutting from side to side and twirling her finger above her head.

But just as things were getting going, the white flashes of lightning in the sky abruptly ended what was promising to be a terrific set from this band on the rise. Among other things, the weather denied fans the chance to hear the smash hit "If I Die Young," the macabre ballad that launched the Band Perry up the charts and earned a Grammy nomination.

On her way back to the car with her 11-year-old daughter, Beth Matsko of Baltimore expressed disappointment that the concert had been called off while the carnival rides were still running and the rest of the fair remained open. She pulled up an app on her smartphone that seemed to show no storm activity over the fairgrounds.

"We did enjoy seeing what we did see," she said. "But we would have been much happier hearing just one song."

According to a statement released Sunday night by Splash Public Relations, representing the band, "The Band Perry and the Maryland State Fair will be rescheduling the lightning shortened show for a TBD date at the Maryland State Fair in 2013. All tickets purchased will be honored for the rescheduled date. More info to come in the next few days."

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