Concert Review: Darius Rucker – Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
Disclosure: I was invited to attend Darius Rucker’s concert in exchange for this post. All opinions here are my own.
Spring break met cowboy chic Sunday night at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. As dazed pool goers stumbled out, those adorning plaid shirts and cowboy boots filtered in. Former Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer turned country star Darius Rucker was performing, and it was bound to be unforgettable.
The lights dimmed, and his signature voice broke through with one word: Alright. And it so it began with the single of the same name.
The crowd happily sang along. Rucker made it look effortless, donning a Miami Dolphins baseball cap, loose black tee, jeans and what looked to be ankle boots.
“Radio” was next and was complimented by red, orange and yellow lights. Rucker bopped his head and moved his feet, clearly loving his job.
“My name is Darius Rucker,” he said, although no introduction was needed. “Any southerners in the audience?” After the crowd cheered, Rucker replied, “This one’s for you.” He proceeded to launch into “Southern State of Mind.”
“Oh, we’re going to have some fun,” he said towards the end of the single before moving his hips slowly and smirking.
The vibe slowed down with “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” with the stage awash in red lights. “For the First Time” picked up the energy again, thanks to Rucker’s infectious happiness and singing from the audience.
After a few upbeat numbers, the band members cleared the stage, save for the keyboard player. It was time for “History in the Making”, where Rucker really showcased his talent. His vocals rang clear through the long notes in this emotional ballad. The strongest applause yet from the audience came though.
Rucker addressed the Hard Rock as “home of the greatest franchise in the NFL”, and got whoops in return. Audience members chanted, “let’s go Dolphins” but Rucker kept speaking.
Stating that the next single was for “all the old people out there”, he launched into “Let Her Cry” from his time with Hootie and the Blowfish. It was a stripped down version with just him on the guitar and a brief soloist from the fiddle player. Out of nowhere, the lights went on and the rest of the band joined him for the last chorus. It was emotional, and enough to make tears come to one’s eyes.
Taking a sip from his Miami Dolphins cup, Rucker sang the “Miami Dolphins” song. “That song sucks”, he laughed, joking how he should write a new song to replace it.
He then told a joke about if there was a bar and a bunch of pretty girls walked in, a singer of a good cover band would make eye contact with his guitarist and start to play songs. He played a bit of “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. “Oh shit,” he said as he made a mock surprised face, imitating one of the aforementioned pretty girls. “A good cover band could also do this,” he playfully said before launching into “No Diggity” by Blackstreet. It was impossible not to stay seated – it was certainly a highlight of the night.
Following “If I Told You”, Rucker was joined by guitarist Mark Bryan from Hootie and the Blowfish for “Hold My Hand.” Guitar and fiddle riffs made this a fun one. Bryan jumped up and down like a kid on Christmas.
The band played a jam sesh as they were introduced before jumping into “Only Wanna Be With You.” A feeling of nostalgia filled the arena for the classic song.
Concluding “Come Back Song”, Rucker waved and walked off the stage as his band played “Listen to the Music” by Doobie Brothers. Of course, it was a ruse – he came back on to perform the playful “Valerie” by The Zutons.
“This song was on our last record, this song should have been a single. But I love this song,” said Rucker before “Hands on Me.”
After, the fiddler did a brief solo which the audience whooped in positive response. As he quickened the pace, so did the claps. Rucker’s rendition of “Wagon Wheel” kicked in, and the crowd sprang up from their seats. This had the most audience participation, from singing to dancing to clapping. And how could it not?
Whether as the frontman for Hootie and the Blowfish or solo as a county artist, Rucker continues to be innovative and catchy. Here’s to many more years of his music.
Southern State of Mind
Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It
For the First Time
Ain’t That America (John Cougar Mellencamp cover)
(Unknown – perhaps “Starting Fires” or “Fires Don’t Start Themselves”)
History in the Making
Let Her Cry
Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks cover)
No Diggity (Blackstreet cover)
Beers and Sunshine
If I Told You
Hold My Hand
Only Wanna Be With You
Come Back Song
Valerie (The Zutons cover)
Hands on Me