Concert review: Gary Allan bares soul to rapt country fans

from Dallas Morning News on

Gary Allan, accompanied only by his kilt-wearing guitarist Jaime Hanna, made it through "No Regrets" without turning emotional Saturday night at Center. But once the song was over, he took a swig from a Jack Daniel's bottle.

"No Regrets," a powerful cut from his latest album, Get Off on the Pain, closes the darkest chapter of his life. The song is his final homage to his late wife, Angela Herzberg, who committed suicide in 2004. In typical Allan fashion, he finished the cut and moved on. The lyrics spoke for themselves.

Allan, backed by his seven-piece band, still believes in the grit and honesty of country music, which should mirror the roller coaster ride of everyday life. Allan's songs come from the same "three chords and the truth" philosophy that inspired his heroes Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. Fourteen years into a recording career, Allan fearlessly injects plenty of rock into his honky-tonk country sound.

It fits his raspy, smoky voice, as well as his tattooed arms and torn jeans image. Onstage for 100 minutes, the California native delivered something from all of his CDs. The crowd of 5,500 – mostly young couples undeterred by the rainy-turned-chilly weather – sang along with every tune. Nobody took a bathroom break during the three Pain tracks. What a dedicated audience.

He's earned the loyalty. Nothing about Allan is fabricated. When he rocked "Like It's a Bad Thing," "Man of Me" and "Get Off on the Pain," it was genuine. When he sat on a stage monitor and offered an emotional rendition of "Life Ain't Always Beautiful," we felt his deep commitment to the song.

During the encore, when he got a little rowdy with a cover of Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," the energy was contagious. Opening acts Jerrod Niemann and Randy Houser

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