The Band Perry proves they are keepers to country music

The Band Perry performed at the Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, Calif.  Image courtesy of Splash Publicity.
The Band Perry performed at the Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, Calif.
Image courtesy of Splash Publicity.

The summer might be winding down, but the spirit was still going strong in Paso Robles, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 7. The Band Perry, along with newcomers, Dan + Shay entertained wine country at the Vino Robles Amphitheatre. The show was part of  The Band Perry’s first headlining gig, the We Are Pioneers World Tour.

New country duo, Dan + Shay, started things off as the opening act. From the time the guys took the stage with their cover of “Paradise City,” they were raring to go. While continuing to pay homage to the 80s throughout their set, including another classic, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” the two also played originals from their debut album “Where It All Began.”

Their summer reminiscent themed songs were perfect for the September evening. They sang their radio singles, “19 You and Me” and “Show You Off,” but also sang supporting tracks from the album such as “Stop, Drop + Roll,” “Party Girl,” “Nothin’ Like You,” and “Somewhere Only We Know.”

Most of the performance was high energy; running around the stage and taking selfies with the first few rows of audience members, but they also slowed it down in various spots. The guys had no problem charming the audience, particularly the women. They said they saw a lot of beautiful ladies and mentioned that most of their band was single.

It was obvious that they were also enjoying the winery setting.

“Who’s drinking wine tonight?” Shay Mooney asked the crowd. Many cheered in response. “I am too…My teeth aren’t usually this red.”

“Just consider this a giant house party with Dan + Shay,” said Dan Smyers, the other vocalist of the two.

Mooney and Smyers took the time to acknowledge that they were just a couple of clowns from Nashville, writing songs and now they were playing at one of the most beautiful venues. They seemed completely humbled when the crowd was singing their own words back to them, adding it was “the coolest feeling in the world.”

“Give yourselves a round of applause for having fun,” Mooney told the crowd.

Both Dan + Shay agreed that the show was one of the best moments they’d ever had and one of the best shows they’d ever played.

I was impressed with how their vocals sounded live and the way they worked the crowd effortlessly.

After a short intermission and change of stage setup, a countdown for The Band Perry flashed on the screen, along with the words “We Are Pioneers.”

With nearly the entire crowd now on their feet, the trio started off with one of their latest hits called “Done.” with plenty of hair flipping and fist pumping into the air.

“You’ve now entered The Band Perry hour of the show,” Kimberly Perry explained to the crowd, though it looked like everyone was very aware at that point. “We like things really really loud in our family,” she added after another up-tempo song “Night Gone Wasted.”

The party was just getting started and the trio certainly brought the energy.

“How many crazy, rabid country music fans do we have here in Paso tonight?” Kimberly Perry asked the crowd and most responded loudly and heartily. She added that as a family they love country music. It brings all kinds of people together, who have had all different kinds of weeks, but come together for one night only.

“We’ve got to dance as one family — Sing as one family,” Kimberly said. It was all about unity for them.

The group slowed it down with their ballad “All Your Life.” It felt like a real kumbaya moment, as if we were all gathered around the campfire with them, with the moon shining down on the amphitheater that only seats about 3,300 people.

Being the leader of the group, Kimberly Perry, took most of the speeches, but did it so eloquently and conversationally.

Kimberly recalled some of the other times they had played Paso Robles and noted that “there’s a lot of free spirits in wine country.” She then told the story of how there are a lot of haters in the world, and one of them just happened to be her eighth grade teacher. Her teacher told her that there are a lot of pretty girls in the world, “Just be lucky you’re smart,” she finished saying with a stare.

Reid Perry shared the thing that his haters like to comment about. They think his hair is too long for country music. “I’m not gonna cut it,” he said, affirming his resolution.

Neil Perry’s haters like to ask him if his mandolin comes in men’s sizes. He says, “I put the man in mandolin.”

Kimberly made everyone in the crowd raise their arms and repeat this oath back to her, “For better or worse, take us or leave us, I am a keeper,” and then launched into their tune of the same name.

One thing’s for sure, The Band Perry is doing things their way, putting on a different kind of show, in the best way possible. They’re a breath of fresh air, and yet, keep it simple and traditional.

Though the three siblings are performing, Kimberly is a force to be reckoned with. It’s hard to take your eyes off of her. As the leader of the group, she carries a demanding stage presence, but still with elegance and grace, all while wearing several inch heels.

They sang a couple more songs, including “Hip To My Heart” and “Postcard From Paris.” Kimberly commented that the crowd sounded beautiful, and they’d have to just start bringing them to every show. She also joked that she’d gladly give up her bunk to anyone who was up for that.

The best part of the concert, in my opinion, was the explanation of their sophomore album “Pioneer,” though I’d heard it before. Kimberly recited the lines of the chorus, which are, “Where are we going/Oh, I don’t know/But still I’ve got to go/What will become of us/ Oh, I don’t care/ All I know is I’ll go anywhere/ Pioneer.”

“Mostly… mostly those words were just talking about finding all that courage that you can. All the bravery that you can right there in your heart, to walk head first, directly towards the days ahead of you, directly head first to the future,” said Kimberly.

She also noted that the future can be a scary place, “When you have no idea what it’s supposed to look like or how the heck you’re supposed to get there. But, the other thing we learned from it was sometimes you’ve just gotta write one song at a time, sometimes you just gotta put one foot in front of the other, another foot in front of the other and just never, never quit…Never.”

When the band sings the song live, each night it takes on new meaning. For this crowd, it was about being proud to live in this great country of ours. An instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played by the band just before they went into “Pioneer.” After, they ended things on an even sweeter note by singing “Amazing Grace.”

I can barely make it through the song without tearing up while listening to the CD, and hearing it live was no different. Adding patriotism to the passion and lyrics was enough to give me goosebumps.

They might be country artists in the way they tell their stories, but their love for rock ’n’ roll was evident too, throwing in a cover of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” While Kesha might not be rock ‘n’ roll, they covered her song, “Timber” before singing the latest single, “Chainsaw.”

The group then sang “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” and exited the stage. As the cheers in the crowd grew louder, they returned for their encore of “If I Die Young” and “Better Dig Two.” The echoes of the crowd singing back to them were haunting and dramatic, which was a wonderful way to end the night.

This was my first time seeing a full show of theirs, and I can’t wait to see them again. While Neil and Reid’s background vocals are often not as prominent on the albums, it was nice to hear their voices blend with Kimberly’s in a more powerful way. The two are also very gifted gifted musicians, playing the mandolin and guitar.

Country music, you’re doing it wrong if these three aren’t nominated for Entertainer of the Year sometime in the near future.

To sum up the night… They’re old souls. They are storytellers. They are trailblazers. They are pioneers. They are The Band Perry.