Aaron Lewis – That Ain’t Country

What to do on a Wednesday night in San Diego?  I decided to check out one of my favorite vocalist at the House of Blues in beautiful downtown San Diego.  Rock-turned-country artist Aaron Lewis brought his “Sinner” tour to The House of Blues to warm up a sold-out crowd Wednesday with songs from his country albums plus some familiar rock tunes. Opening the show was country’s own Travis Marvin, who did a great job in prepping me for what was to come.  Aaron’s tattooed arms gave you a glimpse into his metal roots, but by the first song “Country boy” Lewis proved that his transition to a country crooner is looking to be a successful decision for him.

The “Staind” front man showcased what ingratiates him to fans by ripping through a set that showcased his fondness for everything from a pro-American sentiment to attaching himself to your heart with impassioned ballads. Opener Travis Marvin brought the raw traditional country sound, straight forward one man and acoustic guitar that got the room in the mood.

Lewis came out to a thunderous roar from the sold-out crowd, asking the crowd to remove their hats and launching into “The Pledge of Allegiance,” then jumping right into “Country Boy,” the lead single from 2011’s “Town Line.” That provided the substance for much of the night for Lewis and his band, delivering lyrics bursting with patriotism and a very upbeat feeling came across the room as the crowd joined in and sang along.

It’s been fascinating to see the evolution of Lewis’s country career, from playing intimate settings with former Staind tour bus driver and backing guitar player Ben Kitterman (dobro and pedal steel guitar) performing a handful of originals and a lot of covers — to being backed by a full band armed with songs from two full-length albums of material. The music transformed the House of Blues into an intimate setting, Lewis even looks the part of a country singer dressed plainly in a plaid short sleeved shirt, jeans and a cap, armed with his Autographed covered Fender Telecaster and belting out passionate songs about the heartland and tales of self-examination. Not to disappoint his hardcore Staind fans, Lewis transitioned into a few of the band’s bigger hits, most noticeably “It’s Been Awhile.” Some of these songs were given a country makeover, but as a whole, they sounded right at home put side by side with the rest of the set and also showed off the versatility of his songwriting.  The crowd gave their support to Aaron and sang along most of the evening. Aaron seemed to be very comfortable and you could see his genuine love for country music in his delivery. He was able to transform a packed room of fans into the most intimate of settings, and left them walking away feeling like they were a part of something unique.  I loved the songs and Lewis made me appreciate country a bit more.  One of my favorites was the revealing “Mama.” To call this song – which exudes with pain and sadness – a masterpiece is an understatement. It might be one of the best songs to be on any record this year; it transcends all music genre barriers. Closing the show was the Staind hit “Outside”, what a way to close a fun evening at San Diego’s own House of Blues.  If you get a chance to see Aaron on tour this year, do it!

Set list for SD HOB:

  1. Country Boy
  2. Sinner
  3. Yankee
  4. Mama
  5. Right Here
  6. Heaven was a drink
  7. Grandaddy’s Gun
  8. The Road
  9. Like Sunday
  10. Folded Flag
  11. Whiskey & you
  12. That ain’t country
  13. It’s been awhile
  14. Lost and Lonely / Tangled
  15. Gentlemans Choice / Outside

Aaron Lewis show Review

Venue – SD House of Blues

Date: 04-19-2017

Reviewed by: storm@backstage360.com

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