If you have only listened to Vince Gill on the radio or on his CDs, it is really terrific to see how talented a musician and vocalist he is, as 2,500 people witnessed Thursday night at the Broome County Veteran's Memorial Arena.
Gill took the stage clad in a Senators hockey jersey, jeans and white sneakers, almost as if he had been pulled away from watching the game or working in the yard to do the show. He engaged the audience with personal anecdotes, including many about his late father that were so funny they were worthy of a standup routine. He also showed extreme class and finesse when an unruly fan seated in the front row was thrown out of the concert for being repeatedly disruptive and making a fool of herself.
Gill had an enormous band of about 15 playing nearly every instrument you could think of -- standing bass, fiddle, several guitars, keyboards, organ, brass section -- everything he needed to present his hit songs and his new songs.
From lilting waltzes such as "I Can't Let Go" and "When I Call Your Name" (lost track of how many songs were about a woman running off and leaving a note) to faster-paced fare such as "Oklahoma Borderline," "The Next Big Thing," "Don't Pretend With Me" and "What the Cowgirls Do," Gill was all over the map, including the gospel harmonies of "Go Rest High On That Mountain" as well as bluegrass ("All Prayed UP," "Give Me the Highway") and blues ("Molly Brown").
Gill was at his most endearing and most poignant singing "Key to Life" about his father, who the audience got to know through the aforementioned hilarious anecdotes. Gill knows how to tell a story, and he sure knows how to make a love song, such as "These Days," which he wrote for his wife, Amy Grant (it wasn't long after this that the scary stalker fan lady needed to be escorted out in a true reality TV moment).
Gill even did some jazz on "Faint of Heart," which he recorded with Diana Krall when she was on tour with her husband, Elvis Costello (Elvis, Diana, Amy and Vince -- now there's a PTA meeting for ya).
And another thing Gill knows is how to put together one heck of a band, and it all made for a great show.
No pyrotechnics or frills. Just a guy and his band playing some great music.