Concert review: College Football National Championship final shows with Brett Young, Darius Rucker

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Darius Rucker, former frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish, braves the rain to perform on the final day of the 3-day AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! concert series pre-game celebrations at Centennial Olympic Park on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Eye of Ramsess Media)

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

Country music mingled with a steady drizzle as fans prepared for the evening kickoff between the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide.

A few hundred fans huddled in front of the massive stage at Centennial Olympic Park for the final two performances – save Kendrick Lamar’s halftime appearance – of the AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! event Monday afternoon.

Singer Brett Young ambled onstage just past 3 p.m. in his backward camouflage baseball cap and sneakers, his attire complementing his laid-back Southern California vibe.

He alternately strolled the catwalk and sat on a stool, where he and his quartet of musicians presented the wedding day favorite “In Case You Didn’t Know” and a cover of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”

Though his vocals echoed through the sparsely populated park, Young, a former baseball player, sounded smooth on “Left Side of Leavin’,” as he played to the crowd of mostly UGA fans crammed against the front barricade.

Shortly after Young’s performance, Darius Rucker walked out with a smile and his hands stuffed in the pockets of his black jacket.

“It’s cold out here!” he yelled, before the opening lines of “Homegrown Honey.”

Rucker’s molasses-voice hasn’t lost its depth and he proved himself a game performer by standing out on the catwalk in the rain for much of his performance, his tan workboots bleeding dark from the water.

He led his six-piece band through the easy-swinging, “Southern State of Mind” and”Story to Tell,” before downing a shot in honor of college football.

Right about the time a guy standing far from the stage yelled, “Play some old Hootie!,” Rucker and the band burst into a jaunty version of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Only Wanna Be With You,” complete with a banjo and pedal steel guitar jam at the end.

Whether he’s reaching back to his hacky-sack chart-topping days with his old band, pulling from his formidable country catalog or unspooling a new tune, such as “For the First Time,” Rucker is a dependable presence.

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