Everything’s bigger in Texas, or at least, that’s how the popular expression goes. The singing trio known as The Texas Tenors gave credence to this saying during its passionate Sunday afternoon concert at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
The tenors cover a wide variety of musical genres, including country, classical and Broadway. The group is best known for placing fourth during the fourth season of “America’s Got Talent” in 2009, becoming the highest ranking vocal group in the show’s history. This tour is celebrating the group’s 10th anniversary.
The concert had a patriotic vibe right from the start, as it kicked off with a rendition of the national anthem. The tenors sang inspirational songs such as “God Bless the U.S.A.” and Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” with patriotic images playing behind them on a backdrop. It was a touch hokey, but the mid-sized crowd seemed to eat it up, standing up and swaying during “God Bless the U.S.A.”
The trio was backed by a four-man band titled “The 3 Bottle Band” consisting of a drummer, pianist, electric guitarist and bassist. The ensemble was a nice touch to the overall atmosphere of the performance, but they were often covered up by the over-loud backing tracks that also accompanied the trio.
Each member of the Tenors has a different vocal style, which they acknowledged upon introducing themselves after the first few numbers. Marcus Collins called himself the “contemporary tenor,” as he sounds like a modern day country or pop artist. Fisher is the “romantic tenor” with a strong Broadway-style voice. Finally, Hagen introduced himself simply as “the tenor,” as he has the most powerful, operatic voice of the trio.
True to its Texas roots, the group also sang plenty of country music during its first act set, including a medley of John Denver classics “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
The group has accrued plenty of chemistry and stage presence during its 10 years of performing together. Their decade-long bond was apparent as the group would take moments to tell stories and crack jokes between songs for the audience. However, their chemistry only went so far, as the first act felt a bit stale and repetitive after a while, following the formula of sing, talk to the audience, rinse and repeat.
Thankfully, the second act was a lot more lively than the first. It started with the trio changing their costumes from suits to vests, which they promptly ripped off to reveal Nebraska shirts underneath, causing the crowd to loudly applaud. The men then sang an original country song, “Bootdaddy,” which was an extremely fun, upbeat earworm of a tune.
Other entertaining moments included a solo rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” sung by Collins. He came down into the house for this song, serenading and taking selfies with delighted audience members. The band also got its moment to shine, as the singers left the stage while the band riffed on “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Toward the end of the concert, the trio took turns singing solos from “Les Miserable,” including “Stars,” “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Bring Him Home.” They then came together to sing “One Day More.” Although the song sounded a bit being sung by three people instead of a large chorus, the tenors still managed to produce the power of a full ensemble.
Before finishing with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” the group took a moment to thank certain people in the audience and behind the scenes. Hagen, who spent some time in Lincoln on a graduate teaching assistantship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s music department, gave shoutouts to multiple audience members he knew, including one of his former teachers.
The trio also mentioned its upcoming tour of its Christmas album “Deep in the Heart of Christmas,” teasing that it may make a return to the Lied Center soon to perform some Christmas classics. Until then, however, the Lied Center audience has Sunday afternoon’s sweet and savory concert to fondly remember.