Detroit,Michigan-Playing in what frontman Matthew Ramsey called a “big-ass” space in Detroit is nothing new for country music powerhouse Old Dominion. As Kenny Chesney’s regular touring partner, the country quintet has logged multiple appearances at the home of the NFL Detroit Lions, Ford Field since its first country music hit in 2015. That made Little Caesars Arena, where the group played Thursday night Sept. 14, an almost intimate venue, though Ramsey and company were hardly complaining about their biggest headlining date yet in the market.
The psuedo home time show was made all the more special since keyboardist-guitarist Trevor Rosen,who originally hails from nearby Woodhaven, so it was also per Ramsey, a “home town show,” was made more relevant when Rosen brought his parents on stage during the encore to take a picture with the thousands of fans in the cavernous arena background.
The hour-and-50-minute show proved Old Dominion is more than capable of headlining an arena also. Displaying a confidence that comes from 10 Top 10 Country chart hits and four Top 5 albums, the group breezed through its 22 songs in no-muss, all business fashion. With a handsomely staged set that featured a massive T-shaped ramp that stretched to the middle of the arena floor and three-panel rear video screen for visuals, the throwback show featured no pyrotechnics or choreographed dancers that are just as common for country acts now as it is a staple in Pop shows.
Instead, Old Dominion put the spotlight and heat on their music and it had an abundance to play on Thursday, including three selections from the “Memory Lane” EP it released this past June. The band used the quandary of what to perform leaving three of the evenings cuts open, honoring requests from the Little Caesars crowd, some brandishing signs ala Bruce Springsteen epic shows of years past. The exuberant fan selections led to renditions of “Stars in the City,” “Beer Can In a Truck Bed” and, later, “Wrong Turns,” which all sounded fine despite Ramsey cautioning that “there’s a good chance we’re gonna (mess) it up ’cause we don’t play these all the time.”
The rest of the show offered a career-to-date snapshot of big hits from the opening “Break Up With Him” to “One Man Band,” “Song For Another Time,” “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart”and “Written in the Sand.” Other favorites such as “No Hard Feelings,” “How Good is That,” “Nowhere Fast” and “I Should Have Married You,” continued the crowd sing along in the beautifully curated setlist. Old Dominion paid homage yo Chesney’s “Save It For a Rainy Day,” which Ramsey and guitarist Brad Tursi co-wrote, and Tursi provided instrumental highlights throughout the show, particularly during the extended jam at the end of “Memory Lane” and a brief solo spot that preceded the Chesney song.
Old Dominion finished the night with an encore that morphed from mellow “Hawaii” to rocking, with a bit of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part w)” leading into last years mega-hit “I Was on a Boat That Day.” It may not have been the biggest place the group has played in these parts, but it was definitely a big night for both band and fans