Brad Paisley – Spark Arena October 8, 2022

Brad Paisley closed out his World Tour at Auckland’s Spark Arena proving that his is not your father’s country music concert…integrating riffs from Prince and Van Halen, and featuring a water-skiing squirrel and a surprise marriage proposal.

And there was the music. Between Paisley and supporting acts Kaylee Bell and Morgan Evans, we heard 40 songs in all…that’s a lot of stories to tell.

Kaylee Bell

Kaylee BellKiwi country singer Kaylee Bell may be based in Australia, but she has a huge NZ following as was evidenced by the many Kaylee T-Shirts I saw be worn in the crowd. And speaking of the crowd, they were pretty much in full attendance by 7:30 when Kaylee and her band took the stage.

It’s cool to see the openers playing to a full house and Kaylee made the most of it. Her 30—minute set featured eight songs beginning with her 2016 single Getting Closer and closing with 2019’s crowd-pleasing Keith. Along the way Kaylee proved she has the confidence, charisma, stage presence and songs to hold and keep a full house waiting for a headliner.

“Thank you for showing up for country music”, Bell announced between songs.

One thing I quickly became aware of, this band…and in fact all three on display tonight…rocks harder than I expected. When Kaylee’s guitarist ripped into Small Town Friday Nights I heard a good dose of AC/DC in those riffs. Kaylee might be more Pat Benatar than Dolly Parton these days, and that’s fine by me.

Morgan Evans

Morgan EvansAussie country star Morgan Evans was up next and he and his band worked 9 tunes into 45 minutes stretching out on rockers like Kiss Somebody and Song For The Summer, and taking time to connect with the crowd during solo tunes Things That We Drink To and new song, Over For You written about the recent bust-up of his marriage to American singer Kelsea Ballerini.

Again, the overall sound was 80-guitar rock…think Bryan Adams with a twang. Indeed, on Sing Along Drink Along, we were encouraged to “sing along to a Springsteen song on a blue jean Friday night”, giving many in the audience thoughts of Dancing In The Dark.

Brad Paisley

Brad PaisleyBy the time Brad Paisley and his 6-piece band arrived, I felt like we’d already had a full evening of quality music. But, as the saying goes…”Wait! There’s more.

Much more.

Paisley kicked off his first-ever NZ show with American Saturday Night, making a few lyrical changes to appeal to the locals…”Live, from New Zealand, it’s Saturday night!”

Again, this is a band that rocked, with Paisley’s own guitar playing leading the way.

“Middle Earth is as advertised” commented Brad, “thank you for letting us in, we might never leave”.

And stay they did, cranking out 25 tunes in just under two hours.

The setlist covered Paisley’s 20+ years as a recording artist, drawing from most every album. Wrapped Around, featuring some fine fiddling, was from 2001’s Part II while Last Time For Everything was from 2017’s Love And War.

But let’s get to the fun stuff.

Musically, Paisley and crew showed off their chops and their influences by covering Prince’s Purple Rain (briefly) and Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher (humorously).

There were plenty of visuals projected behind the stage including a water-skiing squirrel during River Bank.

They were singalongs a-plenty and a “kiss-cam” that caught a guy offering a ring to his gal. Craig and Casey were brought up on stage for a first dance as fiancés. This, apparently, is something that happens fairly regularly at Brad Paisley shows, as does his penchant for giving away guitars to lucky kids in the audience which happened during This Is Country Music.

If that’s not a enough, there was a song about ticks and a seemingly impromptu singalong to John Denver’s Take Me  Home, Country Road.

What else could you ask for?

Kaylee and Morgan returned for set-closer Mud On The Tires (Morgan also showed up for I’m Still A Guy…which included a selfie-taking bit of fun with a fan’s camera).

By the end of the night the band was smoking and they jammed out with an extended version of Alcohol for the encore.

One thing I’ll say for Brad Paisley, Morgan Evans and Kaylee Bell…they sure know how to put on a show!

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk.

Brad Paisley:

Morgan Evans:

Kaylee Bell:


Brad Paisley setlist:

  1. American Saturday Night
  2. Wrapped Around
  3. Beat This Summer
  4. Online
  5. Perfect Storm
  6. The Love Boat Theme/Water
  7. Waitin’ On A Woman
  8. Then
  9. Celebrity
  10. The Nervous Breakdown
  11. I’m Still A Guy w/ Morgan Evans
  12. This Is Country Music
  13. Ticks
  14. Letter To Me
  15. Last Time For Everything/Purple Rain
  16. Hot For Teacher
  17. Mountain Music/Old Alabama
  18. River Bank
  19. She’s Everything
  20. Little Moments/We Danced
  21. Whiskey Lullaby
  22. Take Me Home, Country Road
  23. I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)
  24. Mud On The Tires
  25. Alcohol



Morgan Evans Setlist:

  1. Young Again
  2. Kiss Somebody
  3. Sing Along Drink Along
  4. Song For The Summer
  5. Things That We Drink To
  6. Over For You
  7. Love Is Real
  8. Day Drunk
  9. Don’t Dream It’s Over (snippet)

Kaylee Bell Setlist:


  1. Getting Closer
  2. One More Shot
  3. That Summer
  4. Who I Am
  5. Small Town Friday Nights
  6. Home
  7. Living Free
  8. Keith