by MIKE CHAIKEN
Luke Combs clearly has struck a chord with audiences.
The country singer’s show at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Nov. 22 was a sell-out. And the audience was primarily young. Some of the young girls who stared at the stage wouldn’t have looked out of place at an Ariana Grande concert.
However, Combs is not a boy band escapee or a Hollywood movie star. He looks like a man you’d meet at the machine shop or taking a break at a truck stop.
He looks like an average guy.
And as offered up by his between show patter, it was clear he is what he looks like.
An average guy.
Of course, he’s an average guy who just happens to sell out arenas, picks up scads of music awards, and sells tons of records.
That everyman demeanor is part of Combs’ charm on stage and on record.
Combs’ catalogue has several rocking, honky-tonk barnburners filled with clever song titles such as “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” “1-2 Many,” and “Houston, We Got a Problem.” They are songs, well, you raise your beer too and you remember even when the hangover fades. And they got the crowd stomping at the arena.
But where Combs really shines is his ballads. On songs like “She Got the Best of Me,” “Angels Working Overtime,” “Loving On You,” “One Number Away,” and “Hurricane,” Combs really digs deep into his heart and, this is the tricky part, he touches the heart of the listeners. There were several times throughout the evening that I got chills as he crooned there on stage. The stories in his music seemed lived in and authentic. In this respect, he reminds me of modern country balladeers like Blake Shelton and Tim McGraw.
Combs also has a good deal of charisma. He had the audience standing from the moment he stepped on the stage. And they barely sat until the last encore.
However, he never got all “rock star” on us. He was about all about the music, no ego.
Combs’ career is still young… he just released his second album, “What You See Is What You Get.” It will be exciting to see where his career goes next. With such a young audience, and with a catalogue built on strong songwriting rather than gimmicks, Combs clearly may be in it for the long haul.
I give Luke Combs at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Nov. 22 four out of five stars.