Shelton’s superstar girlfriend made a surprise appearance Saturday night, and Shelton, blasting through his hits, reaffirmed why he’s one of country music’s most prominent and consistent stars.
Blake Shelton thrilled a rowdy, sold-out Tacoma Dome with a two-hour set Saturday night, blasting through prime cuts of his extensive catalog and sending fans into a frenzy when he brought out pop superstar Gwen Stefani.
“The Voice” coach wasted little time establishing his crisp sound, starting things off with “Neon Light,” a No. 1 hit off his 2014 album “Bringing Back the Sunshine.” The boozy country rocker was a great way to get the show started, but Shelton is typically at his best singing about love, like on “A Guy With a Girl,” a single from his latest album “If I’m Honest.”
He continued that romantic theme with “Doin’ What She Likes,” which had couples dancing in the aisles. While Shelton’s voice always came through clear and sounded particularly good given the somewhat odd acoustics of the Dome, the mix on that song and a handful of others was murky and left guitars, fiddle and bass fighting each other.
The band struck the right balance on the slow-rolling “Came Here to Forget,” one of the only songs where Shelton infused real menace and regret into his voice. Another new one, “Bet You Still Think About Me,” used a propulsive thrum to power a classic breakup story.
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Shelton brought out his girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, for a duet on “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.” Given the amount of hologram and video guest appearances that major artists often feature, it was a treat to see someone make a cameo in the flesh, and Shelton playfully tweaked the audience once it was over.
“That was Gwen Stefani!” Shelton exclaimed giddily after Stefani departed the stage. “Pretty cool. You guys owe me one.”
More interesting than Stefani’s brief turn on stage was Shelton’s three-song acoustic set where he worked his way backward, from “The More I Drink” (2007) to “Nobody But Me” (2004) before finishing with “Austin,” his first hit single from 2001. He said that after all these years, his favorite thing to do is simply play the guitar and sing country music, and it showed.
Shelton used perhaps his most famous hit, “Honey Bee,” and the cheeky “Boys Round Here,” featuring opening act Raelynn, to close things out before coming back out for a few more songs including a fun cover of “Footloose.”
It might be easy to dismiss Shelton’s impressive, sustained success over the past 16 years as largely a function of his good looks and good ol’ boy charm. He seems to be aware of the potential stigma, joking Saturday night that most of the men in the audience were probably dragged by their significant others.
But Shelton can afford to joke around because he backs up that easy banter and winning grin with a voice that has become iconic in country music, and with his onslaught of No. 1 hits Saturday, he reaffirmed why he has been one of country’s most prominent, consistent stars for nearly two decades.