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Paisley rules Paulson

11,000 dance, party to country music superstar's tunes

     Brad Paisley electrified Statesboro Friday night with smooth vocals and virtuoso guitar work that thrilled about 11,000 fans at Paulson Stadium.

     Country music superstar Paisley was in the Boro on a comfortable spring night as part of his “Bonfires and Amplifires” tour.  

     Opening for Paisley were Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram and former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler, who each performed for approximately 30 minutes.

     But the star of the night was Paisley.

     “He’s freaking amazing,” said Amy Anderson, who attended the concert with some friends. “The way he plays guitar is incredible,” she said.

     Anderson said she’s learning to play guitar, so seeing Paisley was a thrill for her.

     “He’s an inspiration to me,” she said.

     While hundreds of Paisley fans gathered in the parking lot to tailgate prior to Friday night’s concert at Georgia Southern, student Brian Emmons and his friends waited at the gate to be the first ones to get inside.

     “I can’t wait to be out there,” he said more than three hours before the first act performed.

     Emmons, who said he was a big fan and got his tickets for the show the first week they were available, said he was “very excited” to be able to be right in front of the stage to for the concert.

     By 6 p.m., approximately 50 people gathered behind Emmons’ group, all hoping to be in the front of the stage for an up close view of the performers. When the Paulson Stadium gates opened 30 minutes later, hundreds of fans rushed to get a spot close to the stage for the country music superstar’s show.

     “He’s amazing,” said Kyle Williams, a GSU graduate, who was at the show with his wife and several friends, singing along and clapping with the songs.

     Williams said it was a great experience to see Paisley in person.

     “Unreal,” he said.

     Hours before the show even started, fans were already filing into the parking lot to tailgate and have a good time with friends.

     Georgia Southern student Chris Burnette was hanging out with his friends at 4:30 and said they’d been there for about half an hour already.

     “We would have been here at noon, but they didn’t open the parking lot until four,” he said.

     He and his group grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and had a few beers prior to the show.

     “We’re all big country music fans,” he said.

     Meanwhile, a few yards from Burnette’s group was another tailgaiting group of students consisting of Tyler Jacobs, Michael Pannullo and others.

     Pannullo said he was excited Paisley was coming to Georgia Southern because he was bringing other acts that wouldn’t ever play in the area, especially Jack Ingrim.

     “We’d never get to see Jack Ingram play if it wasn’t for (Paisley) coming here because he mostly plays in Texas,” Jacobs said.

     Becky Kelsey was also among the early arrivers for the show, comparing the atmosphere leading up to the concert to that of a Georgia Southern football game.

     “We’re going to grill some hamburgers, hot dogs, some chicken and have some alcohol,” he said.’

     Kelsey, who also attended the Three Doors Down concert at Paulson Stadium two years ago, said the excitement on campus was different for the Paisley show. There seemed to be a lot more people talking about Friday’s concert and she expected a bigger turnout than the rock band drew, she said.

     Georgia Southern officials said about 11,000 tickets were sold for Friday night’s show, which would be more than Three Doors Down and Ciara (the two previous shows held at Paulson Stadium) combined.

     Paisley heads to Columbus for a show tonight followed by a performance in New Orleans on Sunday. Friday’s concert was among the first of his summer-long tour that isn’t scheduled to end until November.

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