Country fans from all around Huron County packed the grandstands and surrounding area Monday night to see Rodney Atkins perform.
The guitar player and singer started off with upbeat "In The Middle." a song from "If You're Going Through Hell," his most recent album released in 2006. He followed that up with another quick-paced song, "About the South," also from that album, as were most of the songs he performed. Two girls near the front had even made shirts for the occasion, with their backs reading "he's what I love about the south."
Atkins got the crowd up and moving with one of his three major hits, "Watching You." He talked briefly about his son starting kindergarten and learning to ride a bike, and then about his two step-daughters, for whom he sings the next song, "Cleaning This Gun." The song has a definite southern sound to it, and made the crowd laugh and cheer with its lyrics about fathers intimidating their daughter's boyfriends.
Atkins continued the concert with a new song he's working on, and a couple more songs from his previous albums. He then hit the audience with another heavy favorite, "These Are My People." The song fired up the audience, from the young children bouncing on their daddys' shoulders and teenagers dancing with their friends to the countless adults enjoying the show. The age differences in the crowd was great, proving that it was a fun time for all ages.
Atkins then took a break to introduce the six members of his band, and eased back into the concert with a few more songs, including "Invisibly Shaken," the only ballad on his 2006 album. The break-up song featured very strong vocals and was rather emotional. It is very different from his classic country songs; it's just soft, with his southern accent.
He started winding down the concert with "Wasted Whisky," during which there was a lead guitar interlude and a powerful moment of Atkins singing a capella. He then finished up with the song his album was named for "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)." He invited everybody to sing along as a dedication to all those soldiers serving our nation around the world. He had the audience singing into the microphone and the whole crowd sounded out loud and clear as if they'd been practicing for days. After his good-bye, Atkins was called back onstage for an encore in which he performed what he called some "old-school" songs.
Coupled with the perfect weather, the concert was a perfect way to kick off the 2007 Huron County Fair.