Blake Shelton Charms Chicago

Blake Shelton had every reason in the world to saunter into Chicago’s Joe’s Bar downright exhausted on Friday afternoon (March 29). He had spent the week touting his new album, Based on a True Story, promoting the fourth season of The Voice and preparing some good ol' shtick for his hosting gig at the ACM Awards coming up on April 7.

Heck . . . he had even played the role of a singing chicken on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

But instead of crashing in Nashville for a much-deserved power nap, Blake strolled into the exclusive radio-sponsored show looking content, feeling blessed and sounding more powerful than ever before. Among a communion of guys grasping beer bottles and girls sporting cowboy boots, Blake greeted the assembled Good Friday crowd of “Windy City rednecks” with the usual wit and candor he has become known for. “I hope y’all have already bought Based on a True Story,” he said, laughing, taking a moment to revel in the yells of the agreeing crowd. “Aww, you lying bastards.”

Between swigs of his mystery drink and constant requests to the day’s ever-evolving and impromptu set list, Blake embarked on 60 minutes of old and new favorites such as “Austin," “Sure Be Cool If You Did” and a somewhat interesting acoustic version of “Hillbilly Bone." “This could really suck acoustically, so y’all better sing loud,” he told the crowd.

But perhaps the most powerful moments of the afternoon were the quieter moments, the times when the otherwise rowdy crowd actually stopped in mid-swig and took in the talents of the man sitting just feet in front of them. With only a guitar and a barstool to keep him company up on the stage, Blake transformed from a celebrity to a man not afraid to still show his heart.

Among the hush of his rendition of “Over You” and the sheer emotion of “God Gave Me You," Blake's true appeal was on display on this sunny Friday afternoon, and it felt authentic and right. Because on this day, despite all of the mainstream attention and naughty Twitter feeds and controversial comments, Blake took an hour to remind all in attendance who he is at his core.

“I frickin’ love Chicago,” he yelled in conclusion, leaving in a rush to catch the next jet plane.

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