Country singer Josh Turner gave a captivating performance Saturday night at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
His deep, mahogany baritone voice delivered some deep messages in song, and kept the near sell-out crowd attentive from his opening number "Firecracker" to his closing more than 20 songs later.
Turner, who turned 32 on Friday, had enough material from his seven years of charting records that he didn't have to do any cover tunes.
Among his song set was a recently released song "Why Don't We Just Dance," which has already reached the top 20 on the country charts. It was obvious the crowd approved on the new record.
Introducing the number, he urged audience members to find a place in the crowded venue to dance and several obliged.
"Why Don't We Just Dance" is the first single off his newest LP, "Haywire," which is set for release in February 2010.
Backed by a seven-piece band - which included his wife Jennifer on the keyboards - Turner was flawless in his delivery.
He spoke very little during the show, periodically responding to a call of "I love you" with "I love you, too." When he introduced his band, one member from Oklahoma pointed out that Jim Thorpe - the athlete - was born in Yale, Oklahoma. This prompted a few cheers.
Every song that Turner did was followed by resounding audience approval.
The highlight of the night came when the arena went dark, and there erupted the clattering sound of a train and the train whistle. It was the intro to Turner's hit "Long Black Train," a gospel number which implies that the symbolic black train is driven by the devil.
He urges in the song, which was nominated in 2004 by the prestigious Country Music Association as "Song of the Year," Cling to the Father and His holy name, And dont go ridin' on that Long Black Train.
It's one of two major hits for Turner which carry religious messages. The other is "Me and God," which soared to the top 20 in 2006.
He is also noted for his love songs, which also had the audience singing along with him, including "Would You Go With Me" and "Your Man," both former number one hits.
"Soul Mate," from his "Everything is Fine" album, was another romantic tune which he sang.
A native of Hannah, S.C., Turner also sang "The Way He Was Raised" from the "Everything is Fine," LP, during which most of the crowd was on its feet clapping along with the beat.
In summary, it was a satisfying performance by a singer who has bucked the country music tradition of scoring big with tearjerkers and heartbreak, capitalizing instead on the positive.