By Courtney Little SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
WEBSTER — The sun shone brightly this afternoon as it warmed the 4,000 people at Indian Ranch for the sold-out show of Season 10 "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery.
An excited New England audience ranging from children to teenage girls to grandparents decked out in Southern flair to watch the 18-year-old heartthrob perform songs from his debut album.
The show began at 2 p.m. with Tim Charron singing “God Bless America” to celebrate the first of two Fourth of July weekends. Then came Massachusetts native Jacy Dawn to kick off the show in her metallic high-heeled boots and subtle Nashville twang.
Not long after she exclaimed how hot it was before leaving the stage, the breezes started blowing, the skies became gray and the high-pitched screams for McCreery turned into reactions to the lightening bolts striking from across the lake. People in the undercover area looked pleasantly as the boats parked offshore on Webster Lake, their occupants initially ready to enjoy a swim and a free show, fled the scene. Unprotected people in the general admission seats looked up at the sky anxiously, hoping to stay dry.
Once McCreery’s band’s instruments were set up, the audience was told that the show would be postponed for a little while until the “Mother Nature’s special effects” eased up. But this didn’t put a damper on the spirits of the audience.
The stage crew covered equipment, spectators got refills on their drinks and chanted “Scotty, Scotty” over the country music that was playing as a filler. When McCreery came out just after 4 p.m., ear-piercing screams could be heard all around as virtually everyone stood up and those who were outside the performance area quickly shuffled back to their seats.
McCreery strolled onto the stage to join his five band members, most of whom were clad in plaid, and jumped right into the song “Walk In The Country” as bright yellow, orange and red lights flashed behind him. It seemed that though the skies were still dark, the sun was back. He whipped out his red-rimmed guitar for the next song as he shuffled round the stage punctuating with a subtle but signature leg kick.
Girls screamed. Women in pink tank tops with McCreery’s face screen-printed on them clapped, waved and held up signs saying “I love you this big.” And McCreery took a moment to catch his breath and reassure the audience that they made the right decision by staying.
“We don’t care about any rain. We don’t care about any weather. We’re not going to let that stop us,” he said. Cheers filled the stands as boats began to slowly fill up the lake again.
And with that, he sang his American Idol finale song, “I Love You This Big.” As the audience swayed in unison with the trees, they flung their arms open wide to let McCreery know that they loved him that much back.
His covers of songs by country favorites like George Straight, John Michael Montgomery, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt seemed to have every mouth at Indian Ranch moving and singing, as did a song of his own called “The Trouble With Girls.”
The clouds moved out as the high-energy show went on. It was the first sellout of the season for Indian Ranch, according to Manager Dick Parent.
And it’s not hard to see why. McCreery’s genuine sincerity made him somehow even more likable, as he lost track of his words while talking about how thankful he was to be there and dropped the cordless microphone before singing his new single, “Water Tower Town.” His confidence and stage presence were well beyond his years, which is probably why women and men alike in the audience looked simply giddy.
During his encore song, a cover of Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone,” the speakers cut out for one verse and then the last chorus, but even that could not spoil the attitudes of fans who were determined to have fun and see McCreery live. And after that very fitting song, they were gone, and so were all the gray clouds.