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Shelton's show grows 'Ten Times Crazier'

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 11:48 p.m.

Before Friday night's concert, we had last seen Blake Shelton perform at the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse, just down the road.

What a difference several years can make. Shelton's Aug. 2 “Ten Times Crazier” tour packed the First Niagara Pavilion with a crowd bigger than anything we've seen in recent memory. The thousands of people formed a sea of faces on the lawn with nary a space for even one more spectator. Shelton expressed his delight at the size of the audience throughout the evening.

“I'm never going to forget this,” Shelton drawled to the thousands. “This is one of those epic concerts.”

Shelton's popularity has boomed in recent years, with nine consecutive No. 1 singles, and a stint as a judge on the reality show “The Voice.” Shelton demonstrated why he is the reigning Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year, and three-time Male Vocalist of the Year.

Shelton's voice is strong, and his stage presence and charisma rocks. He loves to interact with the audience, telling stories and cracking jokes between songs. His set, which lasted more than an hour-and-a-half, included his oldies like “Austin,” which he sang with an acoustic guitar on a platform jutting out into the audience, and songs from the past decade.

Shelton donned a white cowboy hat when he went back to the mid-2000s with the breezy hit “Some Beach” from the album “Barn & Grill.” He attached some black hair extensions to the hat to remind us of the long locks Shelton had before his before he got his big haircut.

We wish the set, as thorough as it otherwise was, would have included more from “Barn & Grill,” namely the fun, flirty and rowdy “Cotton Pickin' Time.” For years, that song made the highlight of a Shelton show and no set should omit it.

In a magical moment, as Shelton sang the ballad “Home,” he asked the audience to light up their cell phones, hold them up and sway them. This created the appearance of a massive summer lawn topped by giant, twinkling fireflies.

In a delightful surprise near the end of the evening, Shelton channeled Kenny Loggins during the encore and sang the lively ‘80s hit “Footloose,” which the crowd dug.

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