Celebrity spotlight dilutes Blake Shelton’s charm

Blake Shelton (above, performing during the 54th annual Grammy Awards) performed a 90-minute show Thursday at the DCU Center.
Matt Sayles/Associated Press
Blake Shelton (above, performing during the 54th annual Grammy Awards) performed a 90-minute show Thursday at the DCU Center.

WORCESTER - Blake Shelton’s easygoing sound and good ol’ boy charm did more than deft craftsmanship ever did to propel the Oklahoma singer up the ranks of country music and into the spotlight provided by his post as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice.’’

And now that very celebrity is chipping away at the easygoing sound and good ol’ boy charm. Shelton performed Thursday at the DCU Center, and while he is still very entertaining, there were portions of the 90-minute show when the canned banter actually sounded like canned banter, and songs carried a sterile efficiency. In short, the seams showed this time.

After sets by Dia Frampton and Justin Moore, Shelton opened his show with Kenny Loggins’s “Footloose,’’ a soundtrack toss-off that still felt like fluff in concert.


Shelton and his band looked like they were walking through the beer-jingle vibe of “All About Tonight’’ and teary ballad “She Wouldn’t Be Gone.’’

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Shelton eventually loosened up, engaging the packed house and looking like he was enjoying himself as he headed into his signature cover of Michael Buble’s “Home.’’ He sustained his momentum with “Some Beach,’’ his rendering of the Jimmy Buffett-Kenny Chesney song formula. And he defanged “Kiss My Country Ass’’ by turning it into a plug for his Twitter feed.

Shelton was at his best when sticking to his country roots during a stretch that included “Ol’ Red,’’ “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking’’ and solo-acoustic performances of “Nobody But Me’’ and “Austin.’’

His duet with former “Voice’’ contestant Frampton on her lightweight “I Will’’ and his cover of “Voice’’ colleague Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You’’ were extended shilling for the TV show. But Shelton reverted to the guy everybody liked in the first place when he hit the homestretch, singing the rowdy “The More I Drink,’’ the sweet “Honey Bee,’’ and the redneck “Hillbilly Bone.’’

Moore was a derivative pop-country opener whose most notable move was starting with a song that seemed like he was reciting an NRA pamphlet. Frampton’s set sounded more indie-pop than country, and reunited her with sister Meg from the band they shared before “The Voice.’’

Scott McLennan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ScottMc Lennan1.