Rodney in the Leader-Post

Review: For Rodney Atkins, it was all about the music

By Jeff DeDekker, The Leader-Post

Craven Country Jamboree


- - -

Rodney Atkins was 20 minutes late taking the stage Saturday night, but it was definitely worth the wait. While Taylor Swift had dominated the main stage Friday night with a massive theatrical production that featured her country/pop songs, the 40-year-old Atkins let his traditional country music do the talking for him.

Although Atkins has an energetic and animated performing style, his 70-minute set was the polar opposite of Swift's performance. It was more about the music than about the show.

With the sun finally breaking through the clouds, Atkins took to the stage with "These Are My People," and gauging the crowd's reaction, the anthem certainly rang true. Atkins Followed up with "Simple Things," "What I Love About The South" and "Man On A Tractor," it quickly became evident what type of man he is. He's a true-blue, good-old-boy redneck, and he's not about to apologize for it. Whether he was singing about farming or fighting or drinking or loving, Atkins provided the Craven Country Jamboree with a detailed look at life in the South.

Atkins also recognized that good old boys and girls also live in Canada and did his best to incorporate them into his show.

"I see we've got some farmer folks, some tractor-driving folks here," Atkins said before breaking into "I Got Friends With Tractors."

Chatting up the crowd before "Wasted Whiskey," Atkins was quick to point out that, "The only wasted whiskey is spilled whiskey, I guess."

The sound mix for Atkins's set was wonderful, his earthy voice highlighted by an excellent six-man band. The crystal-clear sound was never more evident than during "15 Minutes," a Texas swing tune that had traditionalists singing along.

The set hit a bit of a lull when Atkins took more than a few minutes to introduce his band, allowing all of the musicians a chance to display their individual talents. The momentum started to slip away with each passing solo, but then Atkins brought out the big guns for his run to the finish, and it was a wise decision.

"Cleaning This Gun" immediately got the crowd's attention, and Atkins built on the energy with "Watching You."

After playing a local trump card -- "Let's go Riders, those are the magic words, right?" he asked with a laugh -- Atkins introduced his latest single, "It's America," by explaining that he had re-written a few stanzas for this particular show.

When he hit the chorus and it included references to hockey games and Saskatoon, the crowd responded wildly, only to have Atkins up the ante by changing the hook to, "It's Canada." Such a move could have come off as a little hokey, but Atkins seemed genuinely sincere and the crowd appreciated his efforts.

After an abbreviated version of the Johnny Nash hit, "I Can See Clearly Now," he wrapped up his set with "If You're Going Through Hell," which has become a fitting signature song for Atkins.

He lives hard, he loves hard and he works hard -- and that's all you need to know about Rodney Atkins.