Country singer Young reaches the top on tour

By John Benson

There’s a moment in every artist’s career when they just know they’re ready for their own headlining arena tour.

For country music’s Chris Young, who has opened for the likes of Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Alan Jackson and Miranda Lambert, that feeling was evident.

Over the past year, the 2006 “Nashville Star” winner released his third album, “Neon,” which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and watched his singles “Tomorrow” and “You” take his streak of No. 1 releases to five. That leads us to the Liquid Neon Tour, which comes to Covelli Centre on Sunday.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” said Young, calling from San Antonio, Texas. “Obviously, I’ve been looking forward to doing my first headlining tour for a while, and it’s something that we’ve been building toward, for sure. We’ve kind of built it to a level where we’re able to go out there and draw enough people to do a headlining thing.”

Though Young’s aforementioned No. 1 streak ended earlier this year with the title track of his new album, he’s not discouraged. The optimistic singer said that’s just part of the game. He points out that has happened to Alabama, which holds the record for No. 1 singles. It just means he can work toward another streak, perhaps even with his latest track, “I Can Take It From There.”

As for “Neon,” it marked a change for Young that he feels kept him challenged and creative.

“At this point, stylistically to the stuff before it, ‘Neon’ was ultra-traditional,” Young said. “You can hear that just listening to the [title track]. That song is probably the most straight-up traditional thing that I probably will ever put out. It was just one of those things I heard, and that’s what it sounded like to me. It does really well on the road for us, and it’s a lot of fun to play.”

A quick look at Young’s set list reveals all of his hits as well as a few surprise covers that can range from Stevie Wonder’s “Sign Sealed and Delivered” to Keith Whitley’s “I’m Over You” and even Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.”

“We’ll get a little bit out there with it if we need to, but you should do covers that really kind of speak to who you are,” Young said. “Also, we like to catch the crowd off guard a little.”

In case you don’t notice, it sounds as though Young is having fun these days. And why not? It was just five years ago he began his career. In fact, he remembers an early gig at The Wedge in Austintown. For those folks who came out to that show and will be taking in his Covelli concert, he had this message: “It’ll be good to see them again,” he said. “We’re just happy to be going back to Youngstown. It’s going to be a party.”

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