With his ninth studio album due out in just over a week, Blake Shelton was feeling the passage of time Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
“Did you know I’ve been coming to Washington for 13 freaking years?” he asked, almost as if he couldn’t believe the number.
Shelton, 38, brought it back to basics in an expansive two-hour set that took advantage of songs spanning his long career. He immediately won over the crowd with “All About Tonight,” a confident rocker from his 2010 EP of the same name, before dipping into the cheeky “The More I Drink.”
From there, Shelton quickly skipped around his deep discography, from the romantic charm of “Doin’ What She Likes” (off 2013’s “Based on a True Story . . .”) to his clever, catchy No. 1 hit, “Some Beach.” The past was ever present, whether it was Shelton briefly donning a cowboy hat with a mullet sown in, aping his early-career look, or songs like “Austin,” from his self-titled debut album, taking center stage.
Shelton’s veteran band kept it in the pocket all night long and let his voice and easy-going humor do the heavy lifting. He had the crowd in stitches after he noticed a couple kissing during “Ol’ Red,” about a crime of passion, and suggested they might like the romantic “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” better.
While acoustic interludes often break up the momentum of a show and can be ill-advised if the artist doesn’t have the goods to deliver a solo performance, Shelton was masterful on “Over You,” a song he co-wrote with his wife, country star Miranda Lambert, about losing his brother in 1990. It was a powerful and personal moment and maybe a bit surprising for an artist who, like many of Nashville’s biggest stars, doesn’t write many of his own songs.
Shelton finished his show with a couple of megahits. He flirted his way through the casual catchiness of “Honey Bee” before gearing up for the electric swagger of “Boys ’Round Here.” Not quite ready to let his latest trip to Washington end so quickly, he came back for a couple more, including a countrified version of “Footloose” that gave the crowd one last chance to dance their Friday night away.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails