Review: Sam Hunt’s Songwriting Chops, Superstar Personality Combine Onstage
Where you stand on that "Is Sam Hunt country or not?" debate doesn't matter, because anyone who puts on a show like him deserves to be successful. On Friday night (July 1) in Varysburg, N.Y., the singer-songwriter ran through a string of hits, both his and those of others, with his superstar personality on display.
Hunt opened his set with "Leave the Night On," his very first No. 1 hit, following it up quickly with "Ex to See," "Raised on It" and "Saturday Night;" he bounded around the stage and up and down a small catwalk, holding his mic out to fans and even obliging a few requests for photos, as his skilled band backed him up. The crowd seemed loud from the get-go -- but as they'd prove throughout Hunt's show, they could always get louder; by the time Hunt sat down at a piano for his second-to-last song of the night, "Make You Miss Me," he could have let the crowd take over all together.
While Hunt has earned himself an impressive string of platinum-selling chart hits already in his still-young career as an artist, country music fans can also get a taste of his talent thanks to other acts, including Keith Urban, Billy Currington and William Michael Morgan, all of whom have made popular songs penned by Hunt. And it's equally fun to hear Hunt take on those songs -- "Cop Car," "We Are Tonight" and "I Met a Girl," respectively.
All three found their way into Hunt's setlist on Friday night: He kept "I Met a Girl" a bit closer to Morgan's version than his own and mentioned that "Cop Car" is a true story, and how the success of "We Are Tonight" helped him travel the country to make a name for himself as an artist. In fact, Hunt wasn't afraid to get personal with the crowd during his show: He spoke candidly about the girl he lost because of his drive to succeed in the music industry (and how his response to the breakup inspired "Single for the Summer") and was sure to thank the troops, what with it being just a few days before the Fourth of July and all.
Although much of Hunt's set is loud and rockin', he and his band briefly pulled a few stools onstage and ran through an acoustic set that included Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," Maren Morris' "My Church," Dierks Bentley's "Somewhere on a Beach," Thomas Rhett's "T-Shirt," Cole Swindell's "You Should Be Here" and Luke Bryan's "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day."
Hunt has a number of festival dates, as well as shows with Kenny Chesney, on his calendar throughout the rest of the summer. But with a set and charisma like his, it's only a matter of time until he's headlining those same venues himself.
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