Jason Aldean, a country star whose classic-rock-injected songs crunch and roar, rocked the Bayou Country Superfest finale Sunday at Tiger Stadium.
Following classic rock tradition, Aldean started his show nearly an hour late. He bounced onto the stage at 10:55 p.m. to the accompaniment of towers of flame, clouds of smoke and blinding white light.
The opening song “Hicktown” welded the hard-rock riffs of Aerosmith and Free and furiously heavy drums of Metallica to Southern-accented lyrics about high-spirited antics in a proudly small, rural community.
The partying on an all-cylinder pace continued with song two of the night, “My Kinda Party,” another industrial-strength country rock song. Aldean’s two guitarists paid homage to the Southern rock genre during “Party” by running to the tip of the catwalk and playing a harmonized double guitar lead.
Aldean, looking the part in his cowboy hat and blue jeans with matching holes in the knees, occupied the stage with the swaggering confidence you’d expect from a rock star. Following his 2010 and 2012 Superfest performances, his 2014 headlining set showed how much he’s grown.
Getting a continuously demonstrative reaction from his Tiger Stadium crowd, Aldean clearly was among his people. The audience, which stayed in big numbers Sunday despite the late hour, didn’t need to be asked to sing along.
Aldean stuck to themes about rowdy good times and people who live in small towns and rural communities. Alongside his mostly raucous selections, there were emotional songs such as “Tattoos on This Town” and “Fly Over States.” Aldean said he doesn’t give a damn about what noncountry folks think, but the sincerity and poetry in the latter songs suggest otherwise.
Like Aldean, multiple acts sang about country life at Superfest V. But Aldean does such material especially well. And despite the incongruity of a song called “Johnny Cash” that sounds like Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” it’s still a good song.
In contrast to the aggressive country-rock that dominated Aldean’s show, “Big Green Tractor,” a hit from his 2009 album “Wide Open,” was absolutely genteel. It’s a sweet love song, after all, inspired by a young lady and a tractor. Aldean later mixed the best of both worlds with his rendition of Canadian singer Bryan Adams’ ballad “Heaven.”
Ballads were scarce, though, because Aldean, a worthy headliner for Superfest, came to party and proclaim his allegiances. His after-midnight encore, “She’s Country,” was another declaration of proud American redneck independence.