Travis Tritt reminds crowd what ‘real’ country is like at F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre
WILKES-BARRE — Travis Tritt set out to remind folks how much soul and craftsmanship country music can have Thursday night.
He did just that.
Backed by a six-piece band of quintessentially professional players, Tritt took the audience at the F.M. Kirby Center through a cherished catalogue of music by reminiscing his own tunes, covering a few other greats and remembering the outlaws who came before him.
Opening with a feel more southern rock than purist country, Tritt got people moving with “Put Some Drive In Your Country,” which immediately showed how clean and tight his band is.
The Grammy winner turned the place into a honky-tonk with the next tune, “High Time For Gettin’ Down,” before delivering his first ballad of the evening, “I’m Gonna Be Somebody,” a song about wishful dreaming.
Tritt was animated, dancing as he performed and sending souvenir guitar picks into the crowd. Addressing the audience, he promised a night of great music.
“I have to warn you, the songs we’re going to perform are songs that have been around a long time,” he said, inciting cheers.
He followed with “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’,’” his ode to the shortcomings of self-medication. Not the only dedication to drinking on the evening, he picked up the pace with “Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof,” his fiddle and electric guitar players trading leads.
Covers of “Where the Corn Don’t Grow,” recorded by Waylon Jennings six years prior to Tritt’s release, and “Take It Easy,” written by Jackson Brown and Glenn Frey, rang true before Tritt settled into a seat for a story teller’s-style session.
His chart topper and love song from 1995, “Tell Me I Was Dreaming,” brought a standing ovation from the Kirby crowd before he payed homage to the late Merle Haggard with Vince Gill’s “A World Without Haggard.”
Taking the instrumental lead to start the next tune, Tritt played an adept solo that fit somewhere between blues and bluegrass.
Drawing applause, he began to laugh, saying, “Eat your heart out, Luke Bryan.”
It was unclear whether Tritt was mistakenly referring to the Dierks Bentley concert in Moosic the same evening or making a general statement about the current state of country, but the sentiment shined through regardless.
His next song, “Outlaws Like Us” was a swampy blues-country tune that invoked Hank Williams Jr., a comrade of Tritt’s as he stated more than once during the show.
As Tritt and company neared the end of their performance, they delivered some of the more resounding songs from his body of work like “Country Club,” his first hit, and “It’s a Great Day to be Alive,” perhaps the most recognized to the casual listener.
A cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” preceded a heightened moment when the group jammed through a tease of Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” before Tritt introduced his band one member at a time, allowing each to take a solo.
The group then launched into Tritt’s renowned rendition of Elvis Presley’s “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” to send a satisfied audience home.
April Ignatz, of Dallas, said the show was amazing with her favorite moment being Tritt’s performance of “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,” another nod to outlaws on the evening.
“The kids are up at the mountain,” Ignatz said, referring to the younger crowd attending Bentley’s show at Montage. “This is real country.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TLArts