Last updated on July 2nd, 2023 at 09:48 pm
Tonight happened to be a first for me with respect to both artists, given that both saw a significant band member pass on in recent years: Troy Gentry died in 2017, and Alabama lost Jeff Cook just last November.
Montgomery came out in his traditional black outfit and “Tattoos and Scars” brim hat, leading with “Where I Come From,” “Lonely And Gone,” and “She Couldn’t Change Me.” He did his usual strut while spinning the mic stand, crossing back and forth across the stage while performing the hits of Montgomery Gentry.
It was great hearing him live once again; the band puts on a fun show. But I must say it felt and sounded really weird to hear someone else sing Troy Gentry’s parts in the songs.
Alabama came out relaxed while a video of The Star Spangled Banner played, then immediately roared into “Pass it on Down.” That was followed by everyone’s favorite fiddle playin’ song, “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band),” before they settled in with the melodic “The Closer You Get.”
The rest of the show was filled with highs and lows. Randy Owen didn’t have his best day behind the microphone tonight. During “Song of the South,” Randy’s voice cracked at one point and was eerily quiet during another part.
Owen also fell victim later on in the show, apparently forgetting the words for a bit during the song “Born Country.” Everyone has an off night; given the excellent performances I’ve seen before (most recently in 2019), he deserves a pass this time around.
Other highlights of the night came from Alabama’s greatest hits as they played what the fans came for, including “Tennessee River,” “Mountain Music,” “Take Me Down,” and a title that I catch myself saying often, “I’m In a Hurry (And I Don’t Know Why).”
With the passing of Jeff Cook, Alabama brought in fiddle player Megan Mullins, who absolutely slays in that role and is a breath of fresh air for the band.
With that being said, as Megan took the lead spot during the cover of “Orange Blossom Special,” time dragged on, leaving several in the crowd to wonder when that song would end. Despite her amazing musicianship, this one just felt like it was straying too far from the Alabama catalog for too long.
Overall there were definitely more highs than lows tonight, it just didn’t have the feel of previous Alabama concerts. It wasn’t as tight-knit or put together as well. Is this because of the new bandmates? Uncertain.
No matter what, it’s always great listening to and seeing an iconic band like Alabama play. The funny part to me was that back in 2019, they started celebrating their 50th anniversary. And now, in the middle of 2023, they’re still celebrating four years later.