February 20, 2014 / Review by: Kat Corbo
A few weeks ago I got a text from Tammy saying, “Kat, we get to take photos and review The Band Perry’s show in Rockford, Feb 22!” Of course as soon as we saw each other face to face we freaked out and blasted “Better Dig Two,” not caring about our neighbors and dancing like crazy people around our place. We made TBP a key component in our driving playlists so we’d be ready when they came to town, but little did we know nothing could prepare us for the show we were about to experience.
After driving three hours through the thick night fog and almost getting swept off the highway from the crazy storm, we pulled right into a sweet parking spot. With the wind at our backs we ran into the stadium full speed ahead. All day Tammy had this sparkle in her eye, itching for the moment she got to pull her camera out and snap those first few shots, so when the guard started giving her problems about entering into the photo pit we both just froze and looked at each other in shock. With t minus five minutes until TBP came on, we flipped into action, rushing around, finding whoever looked like they could help. Lucky for us we found the right person to get the crazy red head to the pit, and I dashed back to our incredible seats just as the lights dimmed and the crowd went wild. Phew, another crisis averted!
Rockford, Illinois hit the jackpot, hosting The Band Perry’s “We Are Pioneers” World Tour at the BMO Harris Bank Center this Thursday night. I’m surprised the roof stayed put after the insane energy burst they brought with them when they hit the stage with “DONE.” Kimberly, Neil, and Reid flew around the entire place, serving up one of the most entertaining, passionate, and energetic country shows we’ve ever seen.
The chemistry between the band’s members flowed like fresh rain through a stream; every move they made looked natural and authentic. Kimberly, Neil, and Reid acted like they were at huge party, never letting their genuine smiles leave their lips and constantly interacting with each other, their band and the crowd. Every member literally ran around, across, and over the stage, elated to be playing to a full arena. Immediately after “Night Gone Wasted,” the band ran up to the front of the stage as Kimberly jolted back to grab a guitar. As soon as she grasped it in her hands she sprinted to join the jam session for “You Lie.” As they transitioned into “All Your Life,” the whole arena lit up with cell phones, probably reminding the band of the beautiful star-lit country sky they grew up admiring.
Lately Tammy and I have been sad and disappointed in the many country bands and artists crowding the radio with hit songs out about tailgates, beers and girls in short jorts. We worry that the true meaning of music is being lost, but after Thursday’s show, The Band Perry restored our hope in country music. Their songs are sending the right messages; just look at “I’m A Keeper” and “Pioneer.” Kimberly took a minute before “I’m A Keeper” to tell the audience about how at the age of 13, her grandmother sat her down and told her, “There are so many pretty girls out there…at least you’re smart.” Neil and Reid followed her lead, talking about people making fun of Reid for his hair and Neil for his mandolin. Kimberly made every young girl in the room feel beautiful by saying, “I think each and every one of you is a keeper,” before rocking out to the song.
One of my favorite parts of the night was hearing her talk about “Pioneer” and what the lyrics meant to her. People of all ages are worried about their futures, so hearing someone as successful as TBP sing “where are we going? I don’t know, but I’ve still got to go,” must help them to feel like they aren’t alone in their confusion. Tammy and I have always known that as long as we follow our dreams everything will work itself out, so hearing another woman like Kimberly Perry say it felt so reassuring; I can’t imagine what it does for everyone in their crowd night after night.
She went on to talk about the scariness of not knowing what the future may bring, but she told the audience to always follow their dreams no matter what. We got goose bumps knowing at that moment some lives were changing in the crowd just because Kimberly took a few minutes out of the set to send the simple message. Before they played “Pioneer,” Neil brought out the American flag and they bowed their heads as the backing band played the National Anthem. The pure humbleness they felt showed on each of their faces, and Kimberly looked beautifully vulnerable and unguarded, like she was trying to soak it all in.
Next they switched it up, with Neil singing lead on their cover of “Fat Bottomed Girls,” and we felt like we were at a full-on rock show. It helped that Kimberly didn’t dress like your typical flow-y skirt, cowboy booted country girl. Instead she had on a leather skirt and a black sparkly tank top, an outfit Tammy said she wanted to wear out one night (and that’s a lot coming from miss “I’ll never go out without spikes or platforms”). We’ve have never seen an entire country band along with their backing band look so rock n’ roll in both the way they dressed and the way they moved. Neil shredded the mandolin like nobody’s business, and Kimberly head-banged as hard as we would at a rock show. Being on Reid’s side most of the night, I saw every move he made, and was awestruck watching him play with so much intensity. His facial expressions showed how he truly played from his soul the entire show, never giving it less than 100%. The backing band delivered too, and I really appreciated TBP taking the time out to introduce each of members, allowing the audience to connect with every person on stage.
The Band Perry drew every single person in, leaving nobody out, going to all sides of the stage and making sure to interact with as many people as they possibly could. At the end of the show, Kimberly called out to a little boy she had been “flirting” with all night, and the guards helped bring him up on stage. She asked him if he knew the words to “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” and they went on to duet together, making everyone in the audience melt and love TBP even more as they ended their set and walked off stage.
We finally understood why we were getting such strong rock n roll vibes from them all night when Kimberly’s voiceover came on before the encore. She said that they all grew up listening to The Rolling Stones, and her brothers talked about how their true roots come from rock n’ roll. We were wondering how their encore could possibly top the insane show they just played, but they proved the seemingly impossible possible: the firework-worthy encore of “If I Die Young” and “Better Dig Two,” which included lots of running, dancing, and beating huge drums in sync with each other, left the crowd applauding long after the show was over. The Band Perry not only delivers an astonishing, awe-inspiring show, but they are sending the right message to millions of people across the world through their music, and that is one of the most respectable and noteworthy actions any band can do.