Note: This story has been corrected. Kelly Clarkson did not play at the Gorge Amphitheatre Saturday. The show was cancelled at the last minute due to inclement weather.
With little subtlety and barrels of energy, Jason Aldean’s “Night Train 2013” tour steamrolled into the Tacoma Dome Friday night to the delight of a raucous, near-capacity crowd.
Though the concert lost momentum because of an overlong band introduction at the halfway point, things got back on track with a surprise appearance by Kelly Clarkson, who is scheduled to play the Gorge Amphitheatre with Maroon 5 Saturday.
The 90-minute tangle of power chords and screaming guitar solos left the audience ecstatic and somewhat dazed by the time the final cymbal crash faded on “Hicktown,” which closed out the set.
Callers to 100.7 The Wolf after the show were asked to name their favorite moment. “Everything!” one exuberant fan shrieked, stumped when pondering what exactly about the show was fun for her.
Perhaps she had trouble because Aldean provided plenty of moments to choose from. He opened his set with his 2009 hit “Crazy Town,” an aggressive tune driven by propulsive, distorted guitar riffs. It set the tone early as Aldean ripped through rockers “Take A Little Ride,” “Tattoos On This Town” and “When She Says Baby” in rapid succession.
Aldean promised the show would be a mix of everything from his 2005 self-titled debut to plenty of cuts off his latest album, “Night Train,” and he didn’t disappoint. In a six-song span he played at least one song from each of his five albums, culminating with “Night Train,” which this week hit No. 1 on the Billboard country airplay chart.
It was the strongest section of Aldean’s 19-song barrage and covered some of the star’s most appealing hits. “Fly Over States” and “Texas Was You,” two mid-tempo Americana rockers off Aldean’s 2010 megahit “My Kinda Party,” allowed Aldean to use his expressive voice to great effect.
But the real highlight was “Night Train,” which had the crowd singing its rich ear-candy hooks back to Aldean. It translated perfectly live, and just like every other song benefited from Aldean’s choice to have his touring band record his studio albums. They’re a tightknit group that has been together a long time and it shows.
Clarkson joined Aldean for “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” their duet from “My Kinda Party,” and brought the crowd from a simmer back to a boil.
>With rising star Thomas Rhett and veteran Jake Owen, who has four No. 1 singles in the past two years, serving as openers, there was a lot of talent on the Tacoma Dome stage Friday night.
But it is Aldean who remains the benchmark by which the majority of his Nashville colleagues must judge themselves — a megastar with 12 No. 1 singles, signed to a tiny independent label, throwing his kind of party.