Give Me Moore

Country fans decked out in boots, cut-off jeans, tank tops and camouflage piled into Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater last Thursday, hoping for the chance to stand in the front row to see smooth-singing Nashville-native Kip Moore perform. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement from the moment the doors opened, and the buzz only grew louder as opening act Andy Velo took the stage.

Carrying an acoustic guitar and sporting a University of Georgia baseball cap, Velo proved to be an instant success with the restless audience. His first song, an upbeat anthem called “Southern Thing,” was followed by the slower “Let Me Lay My Love On You,” and then the proudly promiscuous “I Can’t Wait To Tap That.”

Velo told the crowd he began his singing and songwriting career at 15 when he entertained with covers of soul and R&B hits, as well as with his originals. Included on his set list Thursday were Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” as well as Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and fellow country singer Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” Later on that night, Kip Moore would also refer to Brooks’ work in his rendition of “That Summer.”

When Moore finally took to the stage, I swear not a single girl in the theater could suppress her high-pitched shrieks at the sight of the country star’s sculpted biceps, proudly displayed in a sleeveless Rolling Stones shirt. I admit, I too was impressed. Moore also sported his signature backwards red cap above a mischievous grin, hinting that he was enjoying the performance just as much as his fans.

Entering to the title track for his latest album, “Up All Night,” Moore proved to be just as comfortable on the Charlottesville stage as he’d be on one of the dirt roads of his youth — made even more apparent when he took swigs from his flask between songs. Arms outstretched and head tilted back, Moore seemed miles away from the Downtown Mall when he belted out “Fly Again,” a song celebrating the freedom that comes after heartbreak.

As the singer returned back to Earth, he congratulated the audience for taking time off of work- or school-related obligations — eliciting several whistles and stomps from the crowd, along with several shouts of “You’re so hot!”

Moore picked back up with the chart-topping “Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck,” and I was ready to hop behind the wheel of the next pickup I saw and hightail back to his hometown of Tifton, Ga. — stick shift be damned. His boyish energy was enough to make even a city girl like me feel right at home in that “farmer’s field.”

What followed was a mixture of boot-stomping ditties like “Crazy One More Time” and romantic songs like “Everything But You,” which made every couple dance a little closer and every girl take one more sip of her drink.

When he played the opening chords of “Hey Pretty Girl,” no one wasted a moment before thrusting their iOS 7.0-illustrated homescreens in the air. “Hey pretty girl, can I have this dance/ And the next one after that…” Moore crooned to lovesick college girls and middle-aged women alike.

With a promise to “wait for the very last person,” Moore left the stage to sign autographs and once again thank his fans for their support. I was lucky enough to get Moore’s signature, but I was more excited that he’d told me “thank you, babe.” In those few hours, I’d fallen in love.

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