Friday night, Darius Rucker brought his Starting Fires tour to the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in Bridgeport. Yes, I went back for the second time in one week. It was interesting to see the change in approach of bag check, parking, security, etc with the change in fan bases. Initially I was a bit unsure of heading out to the show with there supposed to be thunderstorms all night and the venue being outside just essentially under a tent, but fortunately the weather held up making for just a humid night.
Opening the show was Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. The band released a new album, Strangers No More, on June 7th and you can listen to it here. They played several of the songs off of it while opening the show, including Find Your People, Dance with Everybody (which they appropriately dedicated to the pit up front!), All the Money in the World and Gratitude. They also played What Would I Do Without You which Drew dedicated to his wife and kids saying if we didn’t like it, he didn’t care because his family did, as well as I Like To Be Me When I’m With You, a cover of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream and closed their set out with Family. (I think I missed keeping track of a couple in the beginning.) Drew ended the set by saying they would be coming back to the area soon (I’ll have to keep an eye out for that) and that if you didn’t like the music then he hoped you have a good life because we will probably never see you again. My favorite that they did was “Find Your People” which the band also recently performed on CBS Saturday Morning’s Saturday Sessions which you can watch below.
Darius took the stage at about 9:15. I am not really a country fan so I was hopeful he’d be playing some Hootie songs but I ended up pleasantly surprised with his setlist. I also was able to sit for the show and watch on the screens, so I ended up missing out whatever was going on with the show screens in the middle of the stage (that did seem to be pretty cool when I did decide to pop up) but I still had a good time without pushing myself too much. When he did “Little Pink Houses” I popped up and watched and sang along a bit as it was a song I knew, and then I ended up taking over the aisle seat in my row as no one showed up on either side of me for the duration of the show which gave me a little bit better of a vantage point.
I also had peeked at the setlist ahead of time and knew where the Hootie songs were in the setlist. Imagine my surprise when he was supposed to play the first one and ends up talking about that he lost a bet to Dan Patrick and Fritzy was coming up on stage to sing a couple of songs. I am not sure exactly what happened, but he sang Private Eyes and Your Kiss is on My List with Darius singing backup. (Even watching the clips from The Dan Patrick show I still am not sure what happened) Fortunately it was just an addition to the setlist and I don’t think anything was actually removed. [Also at the time of this writing I am not sure if the embedded setlist is actually accurate]
After he repaid his debt, then he went into the first country song he had ever written which was “Let Her Cry” – he then declared it the Summer of the 90s and did I Like It, I Love It, Waterfalls and Poison. I was beginning to know way more songs than I thought I would!
He had Drew Holcomb join him for Don’t Think I Don’t Think About it, then did Hold My Hand, shortly after followed by Only Wanna Be With You. For the most part, it seemed like the Hootie songs got the biggest reactions of anything that he played. At least until he did Wagon Wheel at the end of the encore. I also enjoyed that he did a cover of Valerie as well as No Diggity in the encore.
The only real downside to the night was that I was unable to open my water bottle and no one ended up sitting near me that I could ask for help and now I have a bruise on my hand. And the other was that I think the bars were over serving some of the people in attendance. As the show ended and I was trying to make my way to the exits, an incredibly drunk dude just barreled right into me causing me to snap and yell “WATCH WHERE YOU’RE F*CKING GOING” that ended up clearing everyone else nearby away from me for the time being (it wasn’t them I was mad at!) And the irony is the guy’s shirt said “Shut up liver, you’re fine.” I doubt it.
As I was leaving I saw some lightning and then it started drizzling and the drops got more frequent as I was loading the walker back into the car. Fortunately I somehow timed it perfectly and got inside the car before the heavier rain came. And somehow the rain itself timed it perfectly to only show up as the show ended as I think the fact that there was some lightning would have paused the show or caused it to cut early. (And what would we have done without getting to hear Wagon Wheel? Especially after the guy behind me decided to chant it before every song during the main set?)