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Tim McGraw does it up big in Irvine

Keeping chatter to a minimum, he packed in smashes and made crowd interaction a priority at Verizon.


Tim McGraw at Verizon

Tim McGraw performs Sunday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.
Tim McGraw performs Sunday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.


Tim McGraw

With: Kip Moore, Cassadee Pope

Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine

When: May 18

Main set: One of Those Nights / Real Good Man / I Like It, I Love It / Southern Voice / Red Ragtop / Mexicoma / Down on the Farm / Southern Girl / Just to See You Smile / Better Than I Used to Be / Lookin' for That Girl / Please Remember Me / Back When / Keep on Truckin' / Meanwhile Back at Mama's / You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker cover) / The View / Highway Don't Care / City Lights / Where the Green Grass Grows / Two Lanes of Freedom / Indian Outlaw

Encore: The Cowboy in Me / Truck Yeah / Something Like That / Felt Good on My Lips / Live Like You Were Dying

Country superstar Tim McGraw wasn’t messing around Sunday night during a stop on his Sundown Heaven Town Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. The hits that have defined the latter part of his nearly 25-year career rolled out one after the other, and though he didn’t engage in much on-stage banter, opting to maintain momentum instead, he managed to keep things light, personable and fun.

Fans who purchased pit tickets definitely got their money’s worth, as the 47-year-old singer – clad in tight, faded and strategically ripped blue jeans, a fitted tank that showed off his ripped physique and his signature cowboy hat – slapped high-fives, bumped fists, posed for photos and gently held the hands of a few weeping females as he longingly gazed into their eyes, serenading them during more tender material. One little girl was the envy of many as McGraw yanked her up on stage, sat her next to him, wrapped his arm around her and sweetly sang “Just to See You Smile.”

From the start, McGraw’s band flexed its considerable muscle, ultimately exhibiting great stamina throughout the 22-song main set and five-song encore. Setting the pace for the evening, they kicked off with “One of Those Nights,” the vocalist emerging from the soundboard and walking down the center of the orchestra section as shrieking fans rushed to take photos. The ladies screamed – really, really screamed – as he wiggled his hips around during “Real Good Man.” He also didn’t have to sing a lick of the chorus to “I Like It, I Love It” – he just smiled, pointed the mic into the audience and let the crowd go to work.

With his next album, Sundown Heaven Town, due Sept. 16, McGraw peppered in a few new tracks, including lead single “Lookin’ for That Girl” and his most recent radio hit, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,” featuring his wife, Faith Hill. Surely many hoped she would join him, but that didn’t happen, nor did Taylor Swift turn up for “Highway Don’t Care,” though her recorded vocals were piped in. New cuts “City Lights” and “Keep on Truckin’” also sat well within the set.

Though McGraw and his group were mostly a well-oiled machine, there were a few cringe-worthy moments. Some high notes during “The View” were noticeably sour, though it’s hard to say if it was actually McGraw wavering or a bad blend with his guitarist’s Auto-Tuned vocal contributions. Midshow, he switched to a clip-on microphone, which had terrible audio, then sat at the edge of the stage with an acoustic guitar and told a quick story about being a father in a house filled with estrogen.

He dedicated a cover of the Joe Cocker classic “You Are So Beautiful” to Hill and his three daughters, yet though that moment was cute – and the photos of his adorable family that faded in and out behind him inspired many rounds of “awww” from the crowd – it was still the weakest performance of the night. His guitar playing was off, the vocal was not strong and the clip-on picked up the chatter of nearby fans.

Fortunately, things immediately got back on track as he headed into the encore with “Where the Green Grass Grows,” “Two Lanes of Freedom” and “Indian Outlaw.” There was hardly a break before the five-run finale, which slowed things down only for “The Cowboy in Me,” then got rowdy once more during “Truck Yeah.” And again he hardly had to sing during “Something Like That” and “Felt Good on My Lips”; the audience roared right along. He closed with his inspiring anthem, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Traffic was terrible getting into the venue, so like much of the crowd I missed The Voice winner Cassadee Pope’s set, apart from her last number, the hit “Wasting All These Tears,” performed to a sparse audience. Georgia native Kip Moore, however, another hunky specimen ladies go bananas for, proved he has come a long way since supporting Eric Church on tour two years ago.

His voice a gritty rasp, he belted out “Beer Money” and “Dirt Road” and broke hearts during “Hey Pretty Girl.” He finished with a new song he inked just two weeks ago. He didn’t provide a title, but the crowd ate it up anyway, as it fit well into his repertoire.

Contact the writer: 714-796-3570 or

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