On November 21st, I had the great pleasure to finally see a Wade Bowen concert. My first exposure to Bowen was hearing him sing alongside Will Hoge on “Another Song Nobody Will Hear.” After that I quickly got my hands on Wade’s catalog and I’ve been a huge fan since. So imagine my excitement to learn that Wade Bowen would be in downtown Oklahoma City that Friday night, just a mere 20 minute drive from my place. The show kicked off at 9:30 pm with about a 50 minute opening set from Chance Anderson, a Oklahoma singer/songwriter. Anderson did a great job setting the mood for the night and put on an enjoyable show. After a 45 minute break to reset the stage, enter Wade Bowen.
Bowen kicked off the show with his brand new single, “When I Woke Up Today.” Until that night, my only exposure to Wade Bowen’s live music were two live albums, but experiencing live music in person is much better, especially Bowen’s music. His voice is nearly identical to what you hear on his studio recordings; the man can flat-out sing. After playing “Trouble,” Bowen welcomed the crowd and explained that they had a full set list to play, including over half of his great new album. But this first talk with the crowd ended with him exclaiming let’s enjoy “some country music tonight” heading straight into his great protest song “Songs About Trucks.”
From there, Bowen and the band treated this crowd to some wonderful live music. He sang the definite standouts from the new album like “West Texas Rain”, “Watch Her Drive” and “Long Enough to Be a Memory” along with fan favorites like “Resurrection”, “Mood Ring” (which also had a brief “Ain’t No Sunshine” interlude) and the love song every Wade Bowen fan knows in “Who I Am.” He encouraged the crowd to get pumped up with songs like “Saturday Night”, “Patch of Bad Weather” and “When It’s Reckless.” He also captivated the crowd with heartfelt performances of his slower songs like “Walkin’ Along the Fenceline” and “My California.” Before singing “Hungover” Wade Bowen treated the fans to a short acoustic guitar solo. And as the main set closed out with “Beat Me Down” each member of the band got some spotlight time for solos, including a great drum solo!
In the encore set, Wade Bowen talked about how proud he was to have been able to play in the mother church of country music, the Ryman Auditorium, a few weeks ago. This led to an a-capella opening of the chorus of “If We Ever Make It Home” before playing that song in full. After that this Oklahoma honky-tonk bar enjoyed hearing Bowen’s new song, “Honky Tonk Road.” Here I thought the show was over, but the band had one more song up their sleeve: a cover of The Rolling Stone’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”! I really enjoyed watch Wade Bowen strut across the stage, doing his best Mick Jagger impression.
Overall, it was a great show with some of the best modern country music you’ll find today. Wade Bowen is a great singer, and if you’re a fan of his music, then you couldn’t ask for more than to hear him sing his hit songs for about two hours. Maybe it was the venue’s acoustics or the audio mixing, but there were times it was tough to hear a line or two during some songs, but it didn’t take away from the show much. The stage was small, and at times seemed a little crowded with Wade and his three guitarist (2 electric, 1 bassist) standing, but the four men weaved around each other seamlessly throughout the night. As a singer, you can tell Wade Bowen appreciates his band and was more than happy to give them the spotlight during solos. For the most part the crowd was pleasant and not all that rowdy. In fact, there was an old guy with a long white beard front and center who, I bet, danced more than anyone else in the crowd. He was quite an entertaining sideshow. That guy had the time of his life, and the younger women around him even danced with him at times. This is how concerts should be enjoyed, in my opinion. If you enjoy Wade Bowen’s music, I think it’s worth catching a show of his at least once. Thanks to Wade Bowen and company for a great show!