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By the time Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker returned to join Brad Paisley onstage in the closing moments of a concert Friday night at Alltel Arena that had rocked along for almost three and a half hours, the Paisley Party Tour was already one to remember.
Paisley's prowess on guitar and entertaining presentation of his witty hits, Bentley's energetic delivery of the rockers and ballads that have made him a mainstay on the charts and Rucker's convincing demonstration that he can easily move from Hootie and the Blowfish front man to a solo country career had long since given the 11,448 in attendance plenty to cheer about.
That they proceeded to bring the house down with a last-call serving of “Alcohol” was hardly a surprise. But just when you think you know what to expect from Paisley, he throws in something new – such as his recent mostly instrumental album – and some fans may not have been expecting what he dished up for an encore.
After coming back on stage and serving up another popular novelty song, “Ticks” (of course he had to include that recent hit; one fan had even tried texting his way to front-row seats by proclaiming “I'd like to check your wife for ticks” in a message shown on the video screens), Paisley closed out the evening by trading licks via satellite with blues legend B.B. King on the high-spirited “Let the Good Times Roll.”
Throughout the evening, Paisley used video to include his occasional duet partners, such as Keith Urban on the recent “Start a Band” and Alison Krauss on the poignant “Whiskey Lullaby,” and he thrilled the crowd with many of his other hits, such as “Mud on the Tires,” “Celebrity,” “I'm Still a Guy” and the always-popular “I'm Gonna Miss Her.”
Rucker opened the show with “Forever Road” and his big, rich voice shone on the No. 1 hit “Don't Think I Don't Think About It,” but it was his romp through “All I Want,” “Drinkin' and Dialin' ” and a terrific cover of Hank Jr.'s “Family Tradition” that removed any doubt that he can handle a country song with ease.
The already-proven Bentley, back to his trademark curls after sporting a crew cut for his '07 Alltel show, delighted with “What Was I Thinkin' ” and “Lot of Leavin' Left to Do,” as well as “Feel That Fire” off his upcoming CD.