Review and photos: Tim McGraw gives Tampa fans a spectacle at the Ford Amptheatre
My first experience with country music was a trip to see Ronnie Milsap with my mom, sometime in the mid-1970s. A few seconds into Friday’s Tim McGraw concert at the Ford Amphitheatre convinced me that things have changed a bit since Ronnie’s time.
Catching the attention of the audience with some manufactured static and garble, the massive sound system quickly cleared and blasted Phil Collins’ 1981 hit In The Air Tonight throughout the venue. Anticipating Tim’s appearance, the crowd jumped to its feet and began to sing along. With the song’s final note, a bank of white lights illuminated the stage from behind, presenting the band and entire stage in silhouette.
The outline of McGraw standing on a lighted stairway was then bathed in fog and bright spotlights as Tim launched into Real Good Man, looking more like a superhero than a country singer. McGraw then made his way down an extended runway, shaking hands and greeting eager fans with the poise and practice of a politician.
Backed by nearly a dozen musicians and a large technical staff, McGraw continued to thrill the packed amphitheater with Fly Away and Back Then. With a light show that would make Bon Jovi envious, McGraw definitely gave Tampa fans their money’s worth.
Current country radio sweethearts Lady Antebellum took the stage prior to McGraw and rocked the place with nearly an hour’s worth of high-energy songs, setting the stage for the night’s headliner.
Show openers Love And Theft, kicked off the concert in a decidedly less flamboyant style, but offered concert-goers a solid 20-minute set of country-rock tunes.
-- Review/photos by Jeff O'Kelley, tbt*