June 28, 2013
The Pavilion at Ravinia
Highland Park, IL USA
Review by Tracy Nightingale
Photos by Tracy Nightingale
Sexy and Cute
When trying to describe Darius Rucker on stage, the only thing that comes to mind is a quote from a recent romantic comedy. "The perfect combination of sexy and cute" sums him up best as he's got a few moves and a mega watt smile that can be felt in the back of the house. Touted as the oldest outdoor music venue in the U.S., Ravinia Festival located a bit north of Chicago, was recent host to the singer along with a sold out crowd of nearly 20,000 fans; more than 15,000 of them on a lawn with no line of sight to the stage. It's a lawn of mature trees and sculptures where folks bring in food, wine, candles and friends for a late afternoon of fancy picnicking and an evening of some of the best music in town. The small-ish pavilion held the remainder of fans where, while Rucker was performing, looked and felt a bit more like a rock concert.
Jana Kramer launched the evening with her unique blend of pop princess looks and hints of classic country sound. She made apologies for the summer shower that began just before singing her latest single "I Hope it Rains", but no one seemed to mind; most of them sang and danced right along. As the venue filled in, it was apparent how many people made sure they were there to hear all the familiar tunes Rodney Atkins was about to showcase. His band proved to be of equal talent and the mix of the two had a great energy throughout his set.
Countless artists undoubtedly love what they do when they're performing but no one, in my experience, is more believable than Rucker. His happiness is infectious and there's a likability there where somehow you inherently know that if you bumped into him on the street, he's the same guy that sings the songs you blast in the shower. And, of course, sing along with. The whole band visually emulates his joyful feeling so it has to say something about working with a guy like that. Song after song, he never lost an ounce of attention even with a fan base spanning at least of couple of decades. Those in their 40's reveled in the songs from his Hootie & the Blowfish days while the twenty somethings often asked "Who's Hootie?". Well, he's a talented entertainer with a ton of hits who's still going strong in a genre that seemingly welcomed him with open arms. Oh, and, he's the perfect combination of sexy and cute.