Music review: Billy Currington goes country and beyond at the Fillmore

September 29, 2013

There’s a reason, besides the heaping pile of curly locks, that Billy Currington goes hatless.

The Georgia-born singer likes to start off country — but emphatically refuses to stay there.

By the close of his 80-minute set at the Fillmore on Friday night, Currington and his versatile, energetic quintet had unearthed the “Jeffersons” TV theme song “Movin’ On Up” and, with stabs at Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” turned the Silver Spring rock hall into a beat-heavy nightclub.

Which is hardly to say that he held back the hard stuff. After opening with the happy-go-lucky “I Got a Feelin’,” Currington dug into the honky-tonk rockers “I Wanna Be a Hillbilly” and “That’s How Country Boys Roll.” The traditional-sounding country-western ballad “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” and the mid-tempo “Love Done Gone,” with its charming Neil Diamondesque “ba-bada” singalong hook, lifted spirits even higher.

It was at this point that Currington introduced the audience to his real-live chocolate labrador retriever, Paco — the honorary subject of the mock-misogynistic “Like My Dog” (“He don’t get mad at me and throw a major fit / When I say his sister is a bitch / I want you to love me like my dog does, baby / When I come home, want you to just go crazy”).

Currington escaped the doghouse with a pair of heartfelt ballads: “Let Me Down Easy” and “Don’t.” Indeed it’s easy to picture Currington having attempted to rise up the ranks of modern R&B singers.

Occasionally, though, Currington’s expansive range led him too far afield. The slick pulsating pop of “Hey Girl” and “We Are Tonight” (the title track of his recently dropped new album) sounded forced and flat on Friday.

Yet no matter how strenuously he stretches his repertoire, Currington remains centered in songs like “Good Directions” and “People Are Crazy,” the latter a worthy contribution to county music’s corpus of wisdom literature: “God is great, beer is good — and people are crazy.”

Galupo is a freelance writer.

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