If you’d closed your eyes Saturday night at Jiffy Lube Live, you’d have sworn that McGraw had handed his microphone to a fan in the front row, so woefully off-pitch were his vocals.
And when you opened them, chances were you’d find McGraw had stopped singing and assumed an acre-wide, come-worship-me pose. A surprisingly decent movie actor (“The Blind Side,” “Country Strong”), McGraw need only play one role onstage: Badass hunk.
Whether or not he’s phoning it in, McGraw is obviously doing something right: With two decades of touring and hit-making under his shiny, paperback-size belt buckle, McGraw has no trouble packing them in.
He kicked off Saturday’s two-hour set at the outer fringe of the Lube’s pavilion to give some face-time to the folks on the lawn, delivering the stomping hits “Something Like That” and “Where the Green Grass Grows.”
This interlude culminated in a curious, and somewhat bold, cover of the Commodores’ “Sail On.” Let it be known: Tim McGraw loves him some Lionel Richie.
Duets with warm-up acts the Band Perry and a tipsy-seeming Luke Bryan (on “Can’t Be Really Gone” and “Back When,” respectively) gave McGraw a much-needed goosing — but this fresh steam quickly evaporated as McGraw and his bandmates stumbled through three false starts on the new ballad “Better Than I Used to Be.”
“Thanks for sticking with us on that one,” said a sheepish McGraw.
The back quarter of the show hummed along at a breezier clip, as McGraw bundled together a tranche of such recent hits as “Felt Good on My Lips” and “Southern Voice,” the mid-’90s smash “I Like It, I Love It” and “Live Like You Were Dying,” the poignant tribute to McGraw’s late baseball-hurling father.