Intrust Bank Arena’s very first headliner became its latest “three-peater” on Thursday night.
Country star Brad Paisley, who famously performed the arena’s inaugural concert in January 2010, returned to Wichita for a third time since then, but this time, he drew a smaller crowd.
About 7,000 people attended the show, as opposed to the 10,000 who turned out in 2010 and then again when he returned in 2012. Paisley’s newest studio album, “Moonshine in the Trunk,” was released in 2014, and Wichita’s stop was on the second leg of his “Crushin’ It World Tour,” which started in May 2015.
Paisley rolled out several of his signature tricks during the show, including a giant video screen behind him that gave fans an up-close view of his guitar-playing prowess. Paisley, highly regarded for his guitar skills, changed instruments like a beauty pageant contestant changes outfits. Sometimes, he’d switch guitars in the middle of a song.
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The screen also played dramatic, scenic or humorous videos to accompany Paisley as he sang his hits, including “River Bank,” “Water” and “Moonshine in the Trunk.”
During “Celebrity,” the screen showed a life-size puppet Paisley swinging on a wrecking ball like Miley Cyrus, posing with champagne perched on his derriere like Kim Kardashian, and deflating a football like Tom Brady.
During “Country Nation,” a song whose lyrics mention several college mascots, the video screen flashed footage of the Wichita State University Shocker’s basketball team in action, which elicited loud cheers from the audience.
‘I don’t know what to say except that I love you’
Shortly into his set, Paisley paused and acknowledged the shootings that took place hours earlier in Hesston, leaving several people dead.
“I have to address what’s going on outside a little bit before we go any further,” he said. “I don’t know what to say except that I love you. All my prayers are with the people, I believe it’s north of here, and I want to say that I’m glad to be surrounded by all this love tonight. We’re in a room full of people that want to go on living and celebrate life in America, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Paisley then sang his emotional hit, “This is Country Music,” the title track to his 2011 album.
Among the other hits Paisley performed: “She’s Everything,” “I’m Still a Guy,” “Waitin’ on a Woman,” “I’m Gonna Miss Her,” “Crushin’ It,” “Mud on the Tires” and “Alcohol.”
Throughout, the affable Paisley was playful with audience members, borrowing their cellphones to take selfies, urging a front-row fan to move off his printed set list so he could see it, and handing over a guitar to a small boy in the crowd.
People in the first few rows should probably watch for flu symptoms for the next few days. Scheduled opener Cam, known for the hit song “Burning House,” canceled on Thursday afternoon, citing the flu and a high fever.
Singer Eric Paslay, Paisley’s other opening act, did perform, though he told the crowd he wasn’t feeling much better than Cam. He still managed to deliver an energetic set that included his hit song “Friday Night.”