The Right Path
Country megastar Brantley Gilbert on a devil of a tour, impending fatherhood and second chancesBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader July 12. 2017 1:16PM
If you go...WHO: Brantley Gilbert with Tyler Farr and Luke Combs
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, 72 Meadowbrook Lane, Gilford
INFO: banknhpavilion.com; 293-4700
The set list for a concert by Brantley Gilbert reads like a chronicle of the country megastar’s life experiences: good and bad set to lyrics and song.
Gilbert brings the latest chapter in his story, his 2017 ‘The Devil Don’t Sleep’ tour, to the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford for a 7 p.m. show Friday, along with special guests Tyler Farr and Luke Combs.
His latest album features 16 songs on the regular disc, with another 10 appearing on the deluxe edition. That represents a lot of life lived, put to music.
“A lot has happened,” said Gilbert, who released “The Devil Don’t Sleep” this past January. “And anyone who knows me knows that every album is another chapter of my life. Even though it’s my life, even though some of what I write about is very specific to what happens to me, I think the challenges, the places where we figure things out are all the same. No matter what we’re facing, realizations all mean the same things.”
“The Devil Don’t Sleep” follows Gilbert’s double-platinum albums “Halfway to Heaven” and “Just As I Am,” discs fueled by songs including “Bottoms Up,” “Country Must Be Country Wide” and “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.”
Gilbert said he finds inspiration just about everywhere.
“Everything I’ve listened to has influenced me,” Gilbert said. “I listen to anything, in every genre, and incorporate those things as a writer.”
Gilbert has written hits for superstar Jason Aldean — “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kind of Party.”
“Songwriting is the truest form of expression outside of prayer,” Gilbert said. “It’s a venting process, to get it on paper and not hold it in. I’ve found in my career that those are the songs that fans relate to, more so than the more marketable, targeted songs. A song is more than skin deep for me.”
Just after the “Devil Don’t Sleep” tour kicked off in February, Gilbert and his wife, Amber, found out they were expecting their first child, a boy who is due to arrive in November.
“We had been trying and, like a lot of people, it didn’t happen at first,” said Gilbert. “When I found out, I was in shock. I wasn’t expecting to hear that. I’m not someone who gets super emotional, but this little fella already has me wrapped around his finger. I can’t wait.”
For his latest tour, Gilbert said fans can expect new production effects on stage.
“There is a lot of fire this year, and explosions,” said Gilbert. “There’s a lot of video content we are using. You’ll experience this show through your ears, your eyes. It’s just one of those things people will have to come out and see (to truly experience).”
In 2011, Gilbert went through rehab to deal with his struggles with alcohol and opiates. Given the opioid crisis New Hampshire is facing, he has a message for anyone in the Granite State struggling to get clean.
“Stay with it,” said Gilbert. “It’s a different journey for everyone, but stay strong.”
The new album picks up the story of how Gilbert, five years into being sober, deals with the dangers of falling back into addiction. He sings of redemption and baptism in the song “Three Feet of Water,” and in the album’s title track he sings about remaining vigilant against anything that could drag him back into a life of abusing pills and booze.
“By now, everyone knows the story turned out OK for me,” said Gilbert.
“But the truth is there’s always temptation, there’s always something — whether it’s work or substances or gambling or whatever — that can pull you off the path,” he said. “For me, thankfully, I got through it, got the girl back, got to keep my career moving.”