As I sit in front of my keyboard trying to muster the right words to adequately review last night’s Alan Jackson concert at Allphones Arena in Sydney, I find myself a little overwhelmed.
The serious writer within is lost to the avid fan.
Sure it’s not the first time this has occurred, but this time I’m not going to fight the urge to put on the mask of serious journalistic critique.
So dear reader, I present something a little different to the norm ... an insight into one of the greatest nights of my life.
Here goes ....
Hypothetical. Fate and a little luck has dealt you a kind hand and afforded you a 30 second meeting with a world renowned singer-songwriter.
Now this artist has provided key elements to the soundtrack to your life for nearly half of it.
What do you say?
If you’re like me, you’d probably like to think it would be something memorable. Something to make your slice of their time be as mind-blowing for them as it was for you.
The reality ... after the initial shaking of hands, words seem to gather incoherently at your lips and your brain churns into overdrive.
If not for your jaw clenching, a dribbly mess would likely fall out.
This was the case at Allphones Arena in Sydney last night when I found myself in the presence - and in awe - of legendary American country musician Alan Jackson.
In a life that has granted me many wondrous musical moments, this genuinely was a rare and overwhelming experience.
Mr Jackson was one of the first country artists that captured my imagination and I have been an avid fan ever since.
His music is intrinsically linked to many of my most precious memories - serving as a conduit to numerous beautiful moments in life; linking me to people I’ve lost, places I’ve been, and times forever treasured.
So what did I manage to say after my initial bloodrush?
‘‘Thank you for coming.’’
It just seemed the right, and most honest, thing to say.
Sure, I could have told him that from the moment I heard Midnight In Montgomery I was hooked, or that seeing his rendition of He Stopped Loving Her Today at the funeral of George Jones brought tears to my eyes, but no, I felt saying less would mean so much more.
And you know what, I’m pretty sure it was the greatest decision I could have made.
Mr Jackson returned my offer of gratitude with a similar, ‘‘well thanks for listening’’.
And I felt his sincerity.
These are the greatest moments. A mutual respect between artist and fan. You can't buy that!
So how could the night get any better? Witnessing nearly two hours of Jackson’s greatest hits live.
Backed by his stellar eight-piece band, The Strayhorns, Jackson delivered more than 20 note-perfect renditions of his finest recorded moments.
Opening with Gone Country, he held the crowd in the palm of his hands throughout the set.
The hits followed thick and fast, with I Don’t Even Know Your Name giving way to Livin’ On Love, Summertime Blues followed up by Small Town Southern Man and so on.
I may not have been treated to my Midnight In Montgomery, but with a repertoire stretching as far as Jackson’s, to include all of the fan favourites would have kept him on stage well into the next morning.
Of the many standouts, Drive - a tribute to his father - was brilliant, and the performance of Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning, written in reference to the devastation of September 11, was nothing short of spine-tingling.
With the exception of video screens, the Jackson experience was just that. A man and a band in top form.
He was proof that the greats don’t need bells, whistles and an abundance of pyro to captivate and entertain.
It was truly a case of country coming to the city and Allphones Arena served as the perfect honky tonk.
Here’s hoping Mr Jackson returns real soon for a third Australian jaunt.