“It’s confirmed—this is the best night of my entire life. Dan and I have dreamed of this since were kids and you have truly made our dreams come true. This is an emotional night for us…Nashville, you have given us the entire world,” said Dan+Shay’s Shay Mooney on Friday night (March 6), standing onstage before a sold-out crowd, the first show of their very first headlining arena tour, which happened to launch at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
The moment marked the fulfillment of a dream Mooney and Smyers have been working toward long before they released their debut single, the Top 5 radio hit “19 You + Me,” in 2013.
On Friday, they launched the show with their current hit, “10,000 Hours,” which features pop star Justin Bieber on the recording (and no, though at moments it seemed as though the Nashville crowd might get a surprise, there was no appearance from Bieber). The duo was surprised backstage following their Saturday night show by Warner Music Nashville president/CEO John Esposito, who announced that “10,000 Hours” has now earned an RIAA Platinum certification. Backstage also featured a stately wall that highlighted the duo’s numerous accomplishments over the past seven years.
Instead of launching Friday night’s show from the main stage set at one end of the arena, the duo appeared on a plus-shaped satellite stage (a signifier of the “+” symbol in their stage name), edged in neon lights, in the center of the room. The duo was clearly elated and soaking in the moment, hugging each other at one point during the song, while never missing a note.
For the greater Nashville community, Dan+Shay’s Friday night concert marked the first country music show at Bridgestone since tornadoes ripped through parts of Nashville and middle Tennessee. Though production choices for how Dan+Shay would open their Nashville show were likely planned out well in advance of Friday’s show, the choice to have the two artists open the evening’s show literally surrounded by members of the Nashville community just felt right.
Later in the show, that community spirit reached its peak, as the duo asked the crowd to raise high in the air slips of paper emblazoned with the words “Nashville Strong,” before the duo launched into “From The Ground Up.”
“This has been a bit of a crazy week, a bit of a tough week for all of us Nashvillians,” said Smyers. “My wife and I have lived in east Nashville for almost eight years now. I’m getting choked up right now…Shay and I made all of our records in east Nashville. We were over there the other day and it’s heartbreaking. Our hearts and feelings go out to all of the families, all of the victims and everybody affected here in Tennessee. One thing we noticed through all of that. Nashville, our spirit is not broken,” he said to roaring cheers from the crowd. “This is a music town and one thing we do best in this town in times of need is we come together and we came together tonight to sell out Bridgestone Arena, to celebrate music, to be with the ones we love, to sing songs.”
Throughout the evening, the duo repeatedly thanked Nashville’s creative and music industry community and fans.
“How many of you in this room right now are musicians, songwriters, and working the industry?” Smyers said later in the evening. “Keep fighting the good fight and dreaming big…We love country music because we wanted to write songs and you made that happen for us. You could be anywhere in the world, but you’re here tonight, spreading love, spreading joy, and proving that Nashville’s spirit is not broken. I’m soaking this in because I never want to leave this stage.”
But they did leave the stage–numerous times—to be closer to the audience, weaving from their massive main stage, to the plus-shaped satellite stage, to a smaller stage in the back of the arena, shaking hands, slapping high-fives, and hugging members of the audience along the way.
For nearly two hours, the duo drew from their three albums, including hits “Nothing Like You,” “All To Myself,” and “How Not To,” to deeper album cuts such as “Other Side of the Fence,” “Stupid Love,” and “No Such Thing.” Their set of smooth pop sounds embedded in country music lyrical sensibilities was enhanced by the evening’s technicolored production, which drew out each song’s lyrics with an array of video and images.
Given that a sizeable portion of the duo’s songs pay homage to romance, love and family, one highlight of the show—both for the audience and for Mooney—came as he and Smyers played on the satellite stage in the midst of the crowd, with Smyers on guitar and Mooney on piano. Mooney welcomed his son Asher James and wife Hannah to the stage.
“I’m going to try not to cry,” he said as his wife and son sat on the piano bench next to him, surrounded by a sold-out arena crowd in Nashville. Mooney sang “I Pray For You” to his son, 3-year-old Asher James (Mooney and his wife Hannah welcomed a second son, Ames Alexander, on Feb. 21, 2020).
The crowd’s anticipation swelled as the evening came to a close, as the group saved its two biggest hits to round out the show, with “Speechless” and “Tequila.”
“Let’s do this thing louder than it’s ever been done before, you know what song’s coming up next,” he said as the crowd’s applause swelled into a roar, before they completed their first headlining Bridgestone gig with a triumphant version of their Grammy-winning, 4x multi-Platinum crossover hit “Tequila,” complete with Mooney’s supple voice ringing over the crowd on the last soulful notes as confetti rained down on the crowd.
Opening the shows was Dan+Shay’s labelmate Ingrid Andress, the singer-songwriter behind the current Top 10 single “More Hearts Than Mine.” Andress’ sharp vocals, smart song styling and unassuming, sometimes quirky stage presence seemed to make her edgy and relatable.
The other opening act was rock group The Band Camino. Clearly a favorite on the Nashville scene, the band generated screams and cheers from the crowd before they stepped onstage. The group signed with Elektra Records last year and released the EP tryhard. The band’s energy was high as they ran through songs including the dance rager “Hush Hush,” and the syncopated verses and silky harmony-laden chorus of “Less Than I Do,” along with “Honest” and “Daphne Blue.”
The band has the pop sensibilities of radio-friendly chorus and melodies, propelled by hard rock guitar work and smooth, nearly Eagles-esque harmonies.
“This is crazy, this is the biggest show we’ve ever played,” said frontman Jeffery Jordan. Judging by the band’s kinetic energy, well-crafted songs and crowd engagement, it’s not hard to imagine this group headlining their Bridgestone show in the not-too-distant future.
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