Dierks Bentley packed out Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on a dreary, rainy Friday night (Feb. 22) and reminded everyone why we all love Dierks Bentley. The sold out show was full of surprise guests, full-circle moments and authenticity.
Bentley opened the show with his latest hit, “Burning Man,” while a large LED screen displayed atmospheric videos of the desert. It was clear from the start that visuals play a big part in The Burning Man Tour.
The light rigs then lowered and Bentley’s band broke out the fiddle and the banjo for the bluegrass-flavored title track to his 2010 album Up On the Ridge.
Just when the crowd thought from the mountainous imagery that Bentley was going into another song from his latest project, The Mountain, he threw his arm up as a huge wave took over the screen and looked as if it would crash onto the stage.
“Y’all look like you’re going to the beach!” he said as he went into “Somewhere on a Beach.”
When Bentley sang “Woman, Amen,” black and white images of Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn appeared on the screen.
Bentley then brought his stellar opener, Tenille Townes, back out to sing Elle King’s part of “Different for Girls.”
“I think things are finally starting to look up for us to hear more females on the radio,” he said. “It is different for girls, but it shouldn’t be.”
Townes was not the only guest Bentley invited out to sing with him. Fans roared when Keith Urban wandered out to shred on guitar and harmonize as Bentley sang “The Mountain.” He compared Music Row to a mountain. A photo of him, Urban and Kenny Chesney displayed on the screen as he talked about the climb to success as an artist.
Bentley then showed a photo of Urban winning the CMA Entertainer of the Year award back in November and Urban shook his head as Bentley said that he had reached the top of the mountain.
The crowd roared even louder when Miranda Lambert made her way to the stage to harmonize with the guys on some Hank and Merle.
Lambert and Urban found their sweet spot, harmonizing seamlessly on “Blue Kentucky Girl” as Bentley sat down on the stage in front of them and enjoyed their stellar harmonies with the rest of us, raising his solo cup in the air.
Before they left, Lambert thrilled the audience with a “Cowboy Take Me Away” cover.
Later, Bentley’s daughter Evelyn Bentley made an appearance to sing Brandi Carlile’s part on their collaboration from The Mountain, “Travelin’ Light.” It seems as if having a country star father has rubbed off, as she held her own for the Grammy-winning Carlile’s part; and she did it all while flossing. Bentley shook his head.
“Quit flossing and go to bed!” he said as she made her way backstage.
At one point, Bentley ‘came a little closer’ to the fans at the back of the arena to sing on a smaller stage. It was clear that Bentley wanted to be close to his fans, as he shook and slapped everyone’s hands on his way to and from the small stage. He even invited a lucky fan to shot-gun a beer with him during the party anthem “Am I the Only One.”
“It’s been a lot of years,” he said with his hand on his heart. “We’ve made a lot of fans. Thank you for holding onto us.” Bentley went into “I Hold On” reaching out to his fans and the sky when the song mentioned his father and God.
The sentiment of the night at the “largest honky tonk on lower broadway” wasn’t lost on Bentley. He was grateful, present, intentional and entertaining, leaving some wondering when he will top that mountain and be recognized as an entertainer of the year. Odds are, after Friday night, the crowd already has.
Jon Pardi got the crowd warmed up for Bentley with a plethora of hits from his Platinum California Sunrise.
Kicking the night off with his 2014 “What I Can’t Put Down” and then not wasting any time, Pardi went into his most recent MusicRow No. 1, “Night Shift.”
“We’re gonna be working that night shift tonight!” he said.
The crowd roared as the fiddle whined for the smart, “She Ain’t In It.”
“Shout out to all my hard-working men and women out there enjoying their time off in music city tonight,” he said as the audience raised their drinks and fists in the air for “Paycheck.”
Pardi also promised a new record would come out this year, and teased two tunes from the upcoming project, one called “Heartache Medication” and the other with the lyric it isn’t always the cowboy that rides away.
Audience members swayed and square danced when Pardi went into “Head Over Boots” and sang the words loudly when he performed “Heartache on the Dance Floor.”
“I know y’all got some dirt on your boots!” Pardi yelled as he closed his set with “Dirt on My Boots.”
Tenille Townes was visibly honored to open up the night at the Nashville arena. The folk-rock goddess, draped in burnt orange, performed her debut “Where You Are” and “Somebody’s Daughter,” as well as U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
“I consider it a great honor to open up this night of music for you,” Townes said. “I’m not going to forget this night, Nashville. I’ll hold it close.”
The Hot Country Knights got everything started with their covers of 90s classics like Travis Tritt’s “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.”
A cousin of one of the band members made an appearance to cover Rhett Akin’s “That Ain’t My Truck.” Coincidentally, his voice was uncannily similar to Akin’s son Thomas Rhett. The opening band also had a Dierks Bentley sound-alike, but there’s no way he could have pulled Bentley’s style off.
The Knights also invited Sawyer Brown’s Mark Miller out to sing “Some Girls Do.”
Friday night was a night of great music, real fan connection and a lot of fun. Dierks Bentley’s Burning Man Tour is one not to forget.
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