Pouring rain didn’t deter Zac Brown fans from their opening “Welcome Home” show on Friday night in West Palm Beach. Individuals packed the lawn with umbrellas and rain gear, battling the downpour through the first half hour or so of the 2-hour long set, while onstage, Zac Brown himself promised a memorable show full of “old stuff, new stuff and surprises.”
The night began with a large Zac Brown Band (ZBB) banner lifting and revealing the band in front of a large, circular set of steps, complete with two full drum sets at the top and tons of video boards playing colorful computer screensaver effects.
Without revealing too much (for those of you who have tickets to Saturday’s show), I was extremely impressed by ZBB’s sound dichotomy: hard, heavy rock ‘n’ roll alternated with laid back, Southern country and bluegrass ballads; it worked smoothly.
Starting with “Day for the Dead,” ZBB gave a lively, energetic performance the whole night through, stopping only for a 5-minute break around 9:30 p.m. Both the first and second half performances contained a variety of old crowd favorites: “As She’s Walking Away,” “Loving You Easy,” “Homegrown,” “Knee Deep,” “Toes,” “Colder Weather,” “Beautiful Drug,” and the show closer, “Chicken Fried.”
Sprinkled among those famous songs, I heard some great rock and roll covers, including “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon and U2’s “One.” Zac Brown even treated us to a few electric guitar solos, demonstrating his wide range of sound and the dexterity required to create such crazy, maniacal rhythms on the fly. The fiddle received just as much love, soloing every couple of songs for minutes at a time.
Toward the end of the first half, ZBB brought the band’s “musical hero” and opener Darrell Scott onstage for a dueling of electric guitars. It was about 10 to 15 minutes of pure guitar and drums, and they rocked loudly to cheering from the crowds.
But that wasn’t all—a few songs from the tour’s namesake album, “Welcome Home,” made the show too, including “Start Over,” “Family Table,” and ZBB’s encore, “All the Best,” which led to … well, you’ll just have to go tonight and find out. I’ll give you a hint: guitars, duels, and famous rock and roll bands.