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Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his smash single, “Achy Breaky Heart,” with a handful of tour dates throughout the Midwest this summer, country music veteran Billy Ray Cyrus played to an intimate crowd at North Star Casino Resort on Friday. Following an acoustic warm-up from Derek Jones, who soon jumped into Cyrus’ band, the headliner dug back to the melancholy “Wher’m I Gonna Live” from his multi-platinum debut, “Some Gave All,” to start the night.

The artist/actor then smiled to the crowd, shed his cowboy hat and promptly launched into “I Want My Mullet Back,” drawing some empathy from more than a few fans who obviously shared a connection. He mostly stuck with the music that took him to the top of the charts in 1992, sharing vocals with the opener on the military ode, “Some Gave All,” a thoughtful collaboration given Jones’ previous life serving America.

Cyrus further showcased his personable side as he shook hands with fans throughout the gritty “Could’ve Been Me.” The pensive ballad “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” rounded out the first half, including nods to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and The Georgia Satellites’ “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”

At one point Cyrus proclaimed, “I love it when you know the words   by heart, it’s the greatest feeling,” then joked, “plus, I need the       help.” He did, but it was due to technical difficulties when a   wireless mic gave way to weak batteries that caused him to stop   short on “In The Heart Of A Women” (from his sophomore   effort, “It  Won’t Be The Last”). From the same album, “Words By   Heart” reinvigorated the crowd after the brief pause, while Johnny   Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” added additional punch.

However, it was the much anticipated “Achy Breaky Heart” that   finally pulled a contingent of the crowd into the aisles to dance,   much to the chagrin of house security. Cyrus suggested that he   was about to call it a night, but the stirring induced an impromptu   cover of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” with Jones on vocals   while Cyrus toyed with the fans.

He finished with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” to close the set but did not leave the stage until he shook hands and signed autographs for most of the crowd that stuck around. With all that in mind, longtime fans should try to catch a least something during this run of shows, though at least anyone can still Cyrus on CMT where he returns in his role as Vernon in “Still The King” ever Tuesday night.

Photos by Daniel DeSlover

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