ANAHEIM — On stage, the guy who sings about not rocking the jukebox seems content to play second fiddle to the boob tube.
At the Anaheim Arena on Thursday, country star Alan Jackson offered an electronically glitzy but otherwise bland concert in which he let the video screens behind him generate most of the excitement.
The crowd hardly seemed to mind, saving some of its biggest cheers for close-ups of Jackson's handsome face, and especially for a slow pan up the backside of his blue jeans. There were also numerous clips from his videos, and, in a particularly craven move, a video introduction that was a thinly disguised beer commercial for his tour sponsor.
Jackson's success has been predicated on pleasantly catchy, mildly witty material that never seeks to dig beneath the surface of everyday human interactions. He did nothing on stage to add another dimension. His voice, which is nice but lacks any special, defining qualities, sounded thin through most of the 75-minute set, gaining some punch in time for a more lively closing stretch that included "Don't Rock the Jukebox," "Chattahoochee" and "Mercury Blues."
In contrast, veteran John Anderson carried a strong opening set with one of the most distinctive voices in country music. He won a standing ovation for the show-closing "Seminole Wind," an environmental anthem equal to anything by rock's corps of Greenpeace supporters and Walden Pond preservers.