Concert Reviews


It’s almost Spring! Summer is only a few months away, which means country music tours will be bombarding Northeast Ohio non-stop for a few months. Prior to the season of outdoor parties, country superstar Cody Johnson got the party started a little early with a sold-out show at Covelli Centre in Youngstown last night (Saturday, March 4).

Johnson, a Texas native and former rodeo competitor leaned heavily on his 2021 release, ‘Human: The Double Album,’ with some covers and fan favorites across his discography, including classics dating back to his 2013 debut, ‘Cowboy Like Me.’

It is very important to note that, unlike most country imposters who are as much of a cowboy as Jimmy Buffet is a pirate, Johnson is the real deal! His songs about participating in rodeos and Texas life are autobiographical.

Johnson has recorded with everyone from Reba McEntire to Willie Nelson. His old-school country style is distinctly different from the Rock and Pop country artists that hog the FM airwaves today. He proves to be equally as satisfying to old and new country fans alike, as evidenced by the ruckus applause, and cheers from the age-spanning crowd in Youngstown.

Before playing his 2020 hit, “Dear Rodeo,” Johnson gave a five-minute monologue about his humble beginnings and expressed his gratitude to his fans, and plugged his Amazon Prime special.

Johnson spoke about the early days of piling into a well-worn pickup truck with a bunch of guys to drive across Texas and play shows while trying to hustle CDs that he burned on his own. He asked the audience who remembered Napster and CD burning. For those who cheered, Johnson called them out for being old. (He’s not wrong!)

Video courtesy of YouTube user Kimberly C

Based on audience reaction, the general consensus is that “Nothin’ On You” and “On My Way to You” (both off of his 2019 effort, ‘Aint nothing to It) were both in the top five most loved songs played on the evening.

Overpriced beer continued to flow until last call as the crowd grew increasingly rowdy as the evening progressed. Was the beer really to blame though? Johnson’s show continued to pick up momentum as the night progressed, which is another plausible explanation for the increasing excitement. This is one show where the old adage, “You don’t have to drink to have fun” is certainly applicable.

Not enough can be said about the gratitude that Johnson expressed throughout the night. It is refreshing to see someone of his status be filled with such humility and not take his success for granted.

Perhaps the highlight of the night (at least for this reviewer) was Cody’s #1 single, “‘Til You Can’t” to close out his main set.

The lyrics to this chorus are ones that everyone should take to heart:

If you got a chance, take it, take it while you got a chance
If you got a dream, chase it, ’cause a dream won’t chase you back
If you’re gonna love somebody
Hold ’em as long and as strong and as close as you can
‘Til you can’t

“‘Til You can’t”

The lights went out and an unusual number of bozos headed for the exits in an effort to beat traffic. (Why pay your hard-earned dollar for the tickets only to duck out early?) These early departing fools missed out. BIG TIME!

The cherry on top of this concert was Johnson playing an unreleased song, “Over Missing You” during the encore for its Ohio debut. Presumably, this tune will hand on Cody’s next album.

A cover of The Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier” led to Cody saying his final goodbyes and disappearing from the stage (but not before thanking the crowd one last time).

On this night, Johnson proves that the saying “nice guys finish last” doesn’t always hold true.

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