WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Country fans enjoyed a pre-holiday treat, as Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over” tour made a stop in Wilkes-Barre at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Saturday, Dec. 3.
The evening kicked-off with a half-hour set by Cassadee Pope, best known for capturing America’s hearts (and votes) as the eventual winner of season three of “The Voice.”
“Hello Wilkes-Barre! I Googled it,” a proud Pope said, giddy from the stage, “And there is three ways to say the name of this town. But I’m pretty sure I nailed it on the first try!”
And while a confident Pope offered a sample of her original tunes filled with energy and spunk, her set seemed out of place in retrospect, almost too pop for a night of country. Perhaps it was her limited vocal register, keeping her from really embracing a musical style which has embraced her, forcing her instead to offer uninspired cover versions of songs like Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” whereas more seasoned artists put their own twist on a tune they fancy.
Although later, during Young’s set, Pope did reaffirm her place on the tour as the pair performed the duo “Think of You.” Released as the second single off of Young’s fifth-studio album, the song has sold more than 513,000 copies in the U.S. since its release last January. Proof, after all, that with the right guidance and focus, Pope does have a future in country.
Dustin Lynch amped things up next seeming to having matured all the more since his last visit here a few months ago.
“Gentleman, you all got plenty of dance partners tonight! There’s four to five women to the men tonight, I like this,” he exclaimed from center stage.
“This song isn’t even a week old, I figured I would try something new. We’ve all been through these emotions, at least if we’re 14 or 15 years old we’ve lived this song and it’s called ‘Love Me, or Leave Me Alone’.” The raw vocals were underscored only by an electric guitar, and welcomed by an uneasy silence as those in the arena seemed to hang on every note and word.
His set also included favorites like “Cowboys and Angels” and a mash-up of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” with Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Places.”
After a short break, Young took to the stage, appearing in the center of a digital screen to an eager arena, beginning with the 2015 hit “Underdogs.”
His voice has quickly become one of the most recognizable in country music, having earned a radar flash in 2006 when he appeared as a contestant on “Nashville Star.”
“Here’s a song you all made us change the name to, well, sort of,” he said, as they rolled into the 2009 hit “Getting You Home” (The Black Dress Song).
It was like a trip down memory lane for Young, as he worked the crowd, rolling from hit to hit during his stop in Wilkes-Barre.
At one point he began, “Who I am with You,” and this reviewer had to stop and send a screenshot of the lyrics to someone because the words struck a cord.
That is the power of a good country song. That, right there, is proof positive that Young has a long and fruitful career ahead. He isn’t too much flash. He isn’t too much pop. He’s the perfect mix of heart, lyric and groove.
Pay attention, because Young’s the perfect balance and both Lynch and Pop did themselves a solid joining the tour.