The PovertyNeck Hillbillies opened the show.
By GUY D'ASTOLFO
VINDICATOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- He was ready to rock, but the newly energized Aaron Tippin also didn't forget those blue-collar country anthems that are his bread-and-butter.
Tippin reeled off 90 minutes' worth of mostly the good, old stuff during his concert Thursday at Chevrolet Centre. Standards like "I Got It Honest," "Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Radio," "I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way" and "Working Man's Ph.d" carried the show.
But the old pro also tossed in the three new cuts off "Now & amp; Then," his new album, which is mostly a best-of compilation. "Ready to Rock (In a Country Kinda Way)" started things off, and Tippin later worked in "Could Not Stop Myself" and "He Believed," which was inspired by his father, who passed away a few years ago.
The Chevy Centre crowd was on the sparse side, but the South Carolina-born Tippin has a fan base that apparently runs deep in the Mahoning Valley. Early sales of "Now & amp; Then" were stronger in the Youngstown-Warren area than anywhere else -- a fact that no doubt had a lot to do with a record-signing he did at the Warren Wal-Mart in September. As Aaron Tippin would say, "Youngstown loves Aaron Tippin" (he ALWAYS refers to himself in the third person).
Around midconcert, Tippin -- a spokesman for the Toys for Tots campaign -- assembled a bicycle in a three-minute drill during "Working Man's Ph.D." It's a segment that has become one of his trademarks.
Tippin's tight six-piece band also threw in a few rock cover tunes -- including "Brown Eyed Girl" (probably the most covered song in rock history). Then the veteran Mideast troop entertainer donned a red, white and blue guitar for his encore, getting patriotic for "Where the Stars & amp; Stripes and the Eagles Fly."
He sent the crowd home with the rowdy "Kiss This."
Tippin couldn't have asked for a better warm-up band than the PovertyNeck Hillbillies. The Pittsburgh sextet has been embraced by the Mahoning Valley, and their support was obvious in the noisy crowd.
The Hillbillies must feel at home here as well, as they tried out a new song, "Promised Land," in a display of trust that bands only share with their homeboys.
"Promised Land," an old-school Springsteen-esque rocker about high-school days, provided a glimpse of the group's evolving sound. The PovertyNeckers seem to revel in blurring the line between country, Southern rock, and -- thanks to lead guitarist David "Junior" Guthrie -- rockabilly. Another hint came in a cover of the Eagles' "Take It Easy."
The Hillbillies also tossed in several tunes from their debut album, including "Hillbilly Way," "Heaven Help Me," "One Night in New Orleans," and the song they've become most closely linked to, "Mr. Right Now."