In case Lorain County fairgoers weren’t sure what to expect from Montgomery Gentry’s Monday evening show at the packed grandstand in Wellington, the platinum-selling country act tipped its cowboy hat early.
AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” blared through the speakers. Moments later, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry emerged as loud guitars played to even louder audience cheers.
“The party is here, baby. Are you ready to sing?” said Eddie Montgomery. Well, he wasn’t lying. The roughly 90-minute set included nearly 20 songs to which the audience sang along with gusto.
Just like it all began for Montgomery Gentry nearly 15 years ago, the show started with the rocking “Hillbilly Shoes,” which set the tone for the rock ’n’ country evening ahead. Early on the act bookended its career following up the 1999 Top 20 hit with its most recent Top 10 radio favorite, “Where I Come From.”
“It’s good energy, good singing,” said Margo Trinter, a Vermilion resident. “I like their songs. They’re relaxing and rocking at the same time. Their songs are honest and very much about America. I’m a music teacher, so I like going to different concerts at the fair.”
Thematically, you couldn’t ask for a more apropos county fair band with tunes “Where I Come From” and “My Town” promoting country life (and, basically, fair-going). Then there was mid-tempo ballad “Lucky Man” that extolled the good things in life. The latter also included a raucous shout out to God. As far as the weather was concerned, He must have been listening with a picture-perfect clear evening featuring a beautiful full moon staring down on the festivities.
Halfway through its set, Montgomery said the duo was going to take a walk down memory lane with older tracks that no longer get much stage time. This included a medley of “Lonely and Gone,” “Long Line of Losers,” “Some People Change,” “Cold One Coming On” and “She Couldn’t Change Me.” While the audience was polite, it was obvious they came for the hits.
And they had plenty, with No. 1 tracks “If You Ever Stop Loving Me,” “Something to Be Proud Of,” “Back When I Knew It All” and “Roll with Me.” The band also showed off its diversity with a horn-laden opening to the mid-tempo “Speed.” When Gentry sang “How fast will it go,” it was almost as if he was referring to the concert, which for the most part moved at a steady pace. There was a bit of chitchat but it seemed like the Kentucky group was focused on packing as much music into its show.
As far as the crowd, wives and husbands sat hand in hand, with children intently taking in the special show. Or perhaps they were staring at the amusement park rides located behind the stage. Whatever the case, the evening was perfect.
Invariably, Montgomery Gentry set the bar high for Randy Houser’s Lorain County Fair show Tuesday night. We’ll see if the up-and-comer truly knows “How County Feels.”
Contact John Benson at firstname.lastname@example.org.