A night out at the House of Blues on Sunset is something of a Los Angeles staple. It’s not often that a country act comes rolling through this iconic venue, but when it happens, you better believe the country fans come out. Last Thursday, April 10, Craig Morgan brought his The Journey 2014 Tour to the ecstatic audience at HOB Sunset. The place was buzzing from the moment you walked in, country fans lining up for their first beer of the evening, cowboy hats in tow as they prepared for a night of music that is rare in this part of the country.
The opener, Chad Warrix, took the stage promptly at 8:30, launching in to his southern rock tinged country that the crowd responded to almost immediately. Once a member of the duo, Halfway to Hazard, Chad broke out on his own with his recently release self titled EP. A singer/songwriter that’s had cuts on albums from the likes of Tim McGraw, his sound combines today’s country with a bit of that old southern rock style, it’s something of a mix between Brantley Gilbert and Lynyrd Skynyrd, if you can picture that. Tracks like “Hitch” and “Rain on the Roof” got the audience moving from the front of the stage to the very back of the bar. It’s not often that you see a crowd react to an opener with rapt attention and eagerness to hear more, but that’s exactly the kind of response that Chad got. While there was a certain energy lacking from the performer himself, with a style of music that may have been better suited on a tour with Brantley or Jason Aldean, he made no qualms about giving the crowd exactly what they wanted. They were locked in with him and ready to party.
Next up was the man of the hour, Craig Morgan. Wasting no time warming up he launched into the hit International Harvester, a clear hit with fans in the sea of faces that were screaming every single line right along with him. Beers and fists in the air, every one seemed to move at the exact same time, in sync to the music as their voices mingled with Craig’s in almost perfect harmony. Having never been to a Craig Morgan show before, I had no expectations coming into it either way, completely set on enjoying the music and having a good time. And that’s exactly what happen.
From the energy that Craig infuses into the crowd from his place on the stage, to his ability to make everyone feel welcome and connected (even those dragged out to a country show by the neck of their shirts), people didn’t stop moving the entire night. While he went through hits like Redneck Yacht Club and That’s What I Love About Sunday, he was feeding his fans exactly what they were hoping for. The swell of voice that rose up through the rafters of the House of Blues was enough to cement the fact that Craig Morgan has left his mark on many lives. This was more like the country shows I’m used to seeing on the outskirts of Los Angeles, not in the center of the city, and it made me feel so much at home that I couldn’t stop smiling.
There was the feel good anthem Bonfire and, of course, Corn Star, in which he brought two very lucky fans on stage and did a Luke Bryan-esque ass shake for all of us in the audience. It was definitely one of those balls to the walls, jaw dropping moments that make a show really memorable. Not to miss a moment of true reflection, he got quiet and thankful on Almost Home and This Ain’t Nothing, two songs that have enough warmth to make your heart skip a beat, bring tears to your eyes and send your mind reeling.
The insane show came to an end with Craig’s current radio single Wake Up Lovin’ You, which you can buy now on iTunes as a single or via his The Journey (Livin’ Hits) album release last year. In true country music fashion, the crowd sang every last note until the guitar faded out and the music died, giving all of the local Los Angeleonos like myself a chance to feel far removed from the bright lights of the city and transported back to those southern roots we so often wish we had. Or, at the very least, I do.
To see when Craig Morgan is coming to your city check out his official website. I’d definitely recommend it!