Hootie & The Blowfish Cap Out Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Hootie & the Blowfish perform to a sold-out Bridgestone Arena on Sept. 7, 2019. Photo: Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Fans new and old filled Bridgestone Arena to the gills on Saturday night (Sept. 7) to experience Hootie & The Blowfish, twenty-eight years after performing their first Nashville show at the beloved club Exit/In. As part of the Group Therapy Tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 21-times Platinum breakthrough album, Cracked Rearview, the band sold out the Nashville Arena. Hootie & The Blowfish brought along the Barenaked Ladies with them.

From the minute vocalist Darius Rucker, guitarist Mark Bryan, bassist Dean Felber and drummer Jim “Soni” Sonefeld stepped on stage, the crowd sang along to every word, with drinks and fists in the air. The band kicked everything off with a recording of actor Samuel L. Jackson reading Bible passage Ezekiel 25:17, then the band went straight into back-to-back hits “Hannah Jane,” “State Your Peace” and their “I Go Blind” cover, thrilling the crowd each time. Showing no mercy, Hootie & The Blowfish then played the dreamy “Not Even The Trees” and “Hold My Hand.”

Pictured: Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker performs to a sold-out Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Jason Kempin, Getty Images

“It’s really cool to be back and do this again, get the whole band back together,” Rucker said. “We play this song for one reason; for every band that has ever been a band, there’s that one band that they just look up to. When we started this in ’86, this is the band that made us want to play music.” The band then went into R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.”

During their 1998 hit “I Will Wait,” old photos, tour posters and footage from the early Hootie days played on the screen behind the band. If that wasn’t enough nostalgia, the band followed “I Will Wait” with their monster hit “Let Her Cry.” Cell phone lighters waved in the dark crowd, and fans put their arms around each other and screamed the lyrics to the top of their lungs. The LED wall behind the band displayed a Waffle House diner.

Hootie & The Blowish live at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Photo: LB Rogers for MusicRow

Hootie & The Blowfish then went into the only Led Zeppelin cover that Rucker says he can sing, “Hey Hey What Can I Do.” That wasn’t the only cover of the night, as the band also covered Radney Foster’s “Fine Line” and Tom Waits’ “I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love With You.” They also played lead singer Darius Rucker’s solo country hits “Alright” and “Wagon Wheel.”

Towards the end of the night, Hootie relentlessly thrilled the crowd with fan-favorites “Running From an Angel” and “Time.” They also played a new track, “Rollin’,” from their upcoming studio album, Imperfect Circle, which is due out Nov. 1.

The Barenaked Ladies returned to the stage at the end of the night to help Hootie & The Blowfish cover “I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends.” Members of the two epic ’90s bands locked arms and swayed to the lyrics.

Barenaked Ladies’ proved to be a perfect opener for Hootie, as they played their tongue-tying hits and provided a lot of comedy. “We’re called the Barenaked Ladies.,” lead singer Ed Robertson. “Thank you for arriving early to see our rock and roll performance!” They made sure to play the hits including “If I Had $1000000,” “One Week,” and “Pinch Me,” as well as The Big Bang Theory‘s “The History of Everything.”

During an encore, much to the crowd’s amusement, the band finally played their monster hit “Only Wanna Be With You,” mashed up with Kool & the Gang’s “Get Down on It.” Fans left Bridgestone Arena and walked into the balmy, September air with arms around one another and ear-to-ear smiles.

Hootie & The Blowfish’s Group Therapy Tour continues with a three-night stand in the band’s hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, on Sept. 11, 12 and 13 before the band takes their show to the U.K. & Ireland next month.

Pictured: Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan performs to a sold-out Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Jason Kempin, Getty Images

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LB Rogers is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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