Concert Review | Hardy Lets His Rock Flag Fly at Covelli Centre
YOUNGSTOWN – Hardy, the groundbreaking rock/country phenom, is at the midpoint of a meteoric rise and Youngstown got to witness it Saturday night.
The Mississippi artist touched both musical bases – sometimes in the same song – during his concert at Covelli Centre, which had been sold out for months.
With a minimal stage setup – his three-piece band was all that was necessary – Hardy reveled in his Deep South roots on “Red” and “A Rock.” Those are the type of country staple songs that start with a word and then builds on it, analyzing its many meanings in a way that connects with almost everyone.
But for the most part, Hardy rocked. On his clever hit “Radio Song,” he does both – delivering the witty lyrics like a bro-country hero before roaring like a deathcore singer. Oddly, the contrast works perfectly. “Radio Song,” by the way, is definitely not safe for radio.
Hardy and his band’s musical chops are way more Linkin Park than Luke Bryan.
Clad in black and with his sleeves ripped off, the singer stalked the stage with his ball cap on backward over his long hair and and oversized eyeglasses. It’s a look that’s become a trademark.
Hardy’s roots seem to be in the arena rock concerts of another era.
He fondly referenced shows in which every member of the audience was in sync with the music – instead of watching it on their phone screen with the camera set on “record.”
Then, he ordered the big screens on the sides of the stage to go black, and asked the audience to put their phones away for one song to bring back that old spirit.
Pop music evolves by mixing old ingredients in new ways, and Hardy is birthing a new subgenre.
He already has big shoulders.
One of his opening acts was Lainey Wilson, a country singer with looks straight out of central casting, and who also happens to be on a superstar trajectory. This tour already could fill Wean Park.
With her trademark wide brimmed hat – and quite a few of her fans were sporting the same look – the leather-clad Wilson was a dynamo on stage. She left no doubt about her “make it big” aspirations on “Hold My Halo,” but demonstrated her realness on “Things a Man Oughta Know” and the sweet “Watermelon Moonshine.”
Like Hardy, Wilson interacted with fans near the stage, taking selfies and signing autographs. She closed her 45-minute set with “Heart Like a Truck.”
But it wasn’t her final appearance of the night. Wilson made a much-anticipated return during Hardy’s set to perform their smash duet, “Wait in the Truck.”
The live performance of the song was as dramatic as the video, which tells of an abused woman and her avenging dark angel. Hardy and Wilson set an ominous tone at the start of the song, taking positions on opposite ends of the riser on an otherwise empty stage.
Dylan Marlowe opened Saturday’s concert, and he also returned during Hardy’s set for a couple of tunes, including “Red.”
The encore of Hardy’s nearly two-hour set included the current single “Truck Bed” and the country anthem “Rednecker,” which was a blast.
The two sides of Hardy were best demonstrated on “Sold Out,” the final song of the night. He starts off in ornery country mode before flipping the switch with a scream that rages over churning power chords.
Pictured at top: Hardy struts through the pit during his set.
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