Paul Cauthen greeted a packed house at The Union Event Center on Friday night by flipping-off his critics who doubted he’d make any money with his “uptown country” style. He started his show with “F*** You Money” which reminded skeptic that “Now my show sellin’ out on tour.” That settled, he delighted the crowd with his genre-fluid music. Indeed it was “Country as F***.” He wailed, “You ain’t country enough. Make my own definition, bent the system, ‘bout to start a new religion. Call it country–country as F***.”
He celebrated his success in his larger-than-life style with “Champagne and a Limo.” In Beverly Hillbillies fashion, he poked fun at someone like him joining an exclusive country club with “Country Clubbin’.” He crooned, “Champagne, shuffleboard rednecks on the tennis court.” Given his cocaine and whiskey approach to life and his frequent use of the F-bomb (it’s embedded in several of his songs) I found it odd that this was an all-ages show–especially in Utah!
He down-shifted a bit to play a few serious songs about the dangers of a hard-partying lifestyle in “Slow Down” and “Prayed For Rain.” His deep “Big Velvet” voice is tailor-made for outlaw country, but he can also knock out a soulful ballad. Cauthen gave us a sneak peak of some new material when he played a song he just recorded at Muscle Shoals Studio.
He played a solid 16-song set covering a good array of his growing catalog of great material. He ended with his singalong signature hit “Cocaine Country Dancing.” Uncharacteristically, the show ended without an encore. He played a full-set, though I still hoped for more when the lights came up and signaled it was time to go.
Cauthen fashions his country music with elements of other musical styles like disco. With “Freaks” he gave us a little bit of country-funk (if you can imagine it.) He and his full band took the stage to hip-hop music reflecting his willingness to cross the musical and cultural divide. The late-announced local opener, Lapdog, played a five-song set of cool, ‘70s jazzy yacht rock with extended trippy jams. That wasn’t exactly what you’d expect for a country headliner show. I’m sure some of the cul-de-sac cowboys in the audience didn’t quite get it. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the whole experience. Cauthen isn’t afraid to cross-pollinate all that is great about American music: country, jazz, blues, rock, funk, and hip hop. Friday night it all worked to perfection.
Who: Paul Cauthen
What: The State Room and Postfontaine Presents: Paul Cauthen’s Country Coming Down Tour
Where: The Union Event Center
When: Friday, March 3, 2023
Chappell Roan, a self-described thrift store pop star, is performing at Soundwell on Thursday, March 9, 2023 in support of her sold-out Naked In North America tour. Read John’s show preview here!