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Mark Wills wows 'em at Maryland Theatre

May 21, 2000|By TARA REILLY

He didn't need a fancy set to put on a good show, like the bigger musical acts whose stages resemble scenes from high-budget science-fiction movies.

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That's because Mark Wills charmed the crowd at the Maryland Theater with his honest lyrics, refreshing music and humor, according to fans who attended the first of two concerts.

Wills, 26, a Georgia native, played both shows Sunday in Hagerstown.

The first show, lasting an hour, drew about 900 people and included songs from his past albums and most recent release, "Permanently." "Permanently" has just been certified gold by selling 500,000 copies.

"He was terrific," Ada Parsons said. "It's my first time seeing him, and I'd come back again."

Parsons drove from Baltimore to see Wills and said she was thrilled to hear her favorite song, "Jacob's Ladder," in person.

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"Jacob's Ladder," released in 1996, was Wills' first Top 5 hit. Wills was also named Top New Male Vocalist of 1999 by the Academy of Country Music.

Other songs Wills played included hits "Wish You Were Here," "I Do (Cherish You)," "Don't Laugh at Me," "Almost Doesn't Count" and "Places I've Never Been." The recent single and last song of the show, "Back At One," received the loudest response during the concert.

Wills captivated the crowd early on in the show when he told them he had just eaten dinner at a local steakhouse but then teased them by saying he couldn't remember which one.

"I don't know, " Wills said. "I can't even remember the name of my band."

Shortly afterward, Wills revealed that he had eaten at the Texas Roadhouse on the Dual Highway.

Wills continued to keep the crowds' attention by throwing in bits of humor between songs.

Before the start of the slow song "In My Arms," a stage crew member handed Wills a small stool to sit on while he explained the song was written for his 21-month-old daughter, Mally.

Joking about the height of the stool, Wills quipped, "Could we have gotten a smaller stool? I feel like I'm sitting on the toilet."

Kathy Cook, of Quincy, Pa. described Wills performance as "wonderful."

"He's very calming," Cook said. "He's real clean cut and just very pleasant."

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