Last night I got to see a performer whose music I have enjoyed my entire adult life. My oldest son and I saw Vince Gill at Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa. We’ve been going to shows together for several years now as he enjoys music and theater as much or possibly more than I do. Over the years, we’ve seen RENT, Motown the Musical, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, as well as several ISU Marching Band Review Concerts at Stephens Auditorium.
When I saw that Vince Gill was going to be playing there, I knew we just had to go! And, he didn’t disappoint! I was ready for the great musicianship, talented strokes on the guitar, and inspired songs this man treats his audience to hear. It was the third time that I’ve heard Gill in concert.
The first was in 1988. Freshly married, we went to see him in Tonawanda NY, a suburb of Buffalo. He played at Melody Fair, a venue that allowed performers to entertain “in the round” as the seating encircled the stage. It was a fairly small, intimate venue seating approximately 300 people. We were only several rows away from him at that performance – one that I will always remember! He was just striking it big with songs such as I Still Believe in You, and Don’t Let Our Love Start Slipping Away.
After that concert, I bought each new CD as they were released for several years. Then, my husband and I saw his perform Christmas songs at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in the early 1990s. Again, his perfectly pitched tenor voice brought a new style to old favorites such as White Christmas and There are Angels Among Us. This concert was slightly disappointing, however, due to the venue. The seating was all on the same level, on a gymnasium type floor and we were towards the back. Being short, I could not see Gill perform with the exception brief glimpses as he moved across the slightly elevated stage. It was crowded and unsatisfying. But, it still didn’t stop me from buying a Christmas CD from this artist a year or two later.
The concert last night was exceptional. There are not many, if any, bad seats in Stephens Auditorium. We were on the main floor near the middle and could see him during the entire performance (although I wish my eyesight was better or I had brought binoculars). His warm-up was an Aussie who plays in Gill’s band and really impressed with his story based country songs, as well as his musicianship.
Gill started playing about 8;30 and didn’t stop until 10:45 after a long encore performance of four songs! Favorites were heard, jokes were told, and new songs were played – all to an audience who absolutely adored him. He’s a consummate entertainer but so down to earth. He’s also someone who exudes his passion for music and life. His songs are often inspired by real-life events like the passing of his brother and friend-mentor Merle Haggard. He writes some cheating songs, which he admitted are part of the bread and butter of country music. But, you’ll hear few to no songs about drinking or dogs that seem to dominate the world of country. In short, his music is refreshing, especially when you know why he wrote the song or who it is about.
Gill mixed it up last night with many of oldies that I heard at Melody Fair in 1988. But, he also gave us a taste of his newest CD, Oakie. I do like several of the songs from that CD that he played last night, so I think I’ll be adding it to my Vince Gill Collection.
If you appreciate talent, musicianship, and what to experience one of the greatest guitar players of our time, I highly suggest you go to one of his concerts. Vince Gill won’t disappoint!