On Friday evening (Sept. 4) Scotty McCreery picked up where he left off nearly six months ago—singing a mix of his own chart-topping songs and classic country gems onstage at the Ryman Auditorium. On March 11, McCreery had been the final artist to perform in front of a live audience at the Ryman, before mandates forced the closing of businesses and music venues that month, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We sold it out tonight. It just looked a little different in March when we sold it out,” McCreery told the crowd Friday evening. The concert was part of the Ryman’s newly-minted Live at the Ryman series. Though the concert’s audience was limited to 125 attendees (just 5% of the Ryman’s capacity), many more tuned in via livestream, powered by Mandolin.
“It’s good to see clapping hands again,” he told the audience, later adding, “I’m three songs in and I can’t tell you how good it feels to back onstage, and to do it at the Ryman Auditorium…we were thinking on that day, did we think it would be six months before we played another show? We did not, but Lord have mercy if that ain’t true. I’ve been playing to my computer for six months. It’s nice just to hear a little applause, it really made me feel good. It’s been a heck of a year for all of us and a lot of things have changed.”
McCreery offered his own hits such as 2x multi-Platinum “Five More Minutes” and Platinum-certified “This Is It,” and peppered the show with fan favorites such as “Boys From Back Home,” “Seasons Change,” and the lighthearted yet smoldering “Barefootin’.”
“I never could have envisioned a world without live music. It’s all I’ve known, but it is special to be here tonight.”
Even with the diminished size and socially-distanced spacing of the audience inside the Ryman, McCreery’s performance felt easygoing and intimate.
“I keep wanting to throw picks out but that’s not COVID-friendly,” he quipped at one point.
“I’m also out of singing shape. I’m breathing hard up here,” he chuckled candidly, before sharing how he’s been spending time at home with his family in North Carolina.
“I’ve picked up my guitar more than ever and have been in the studio. I kind of found a love of it again, just playing different songs.”
He dedicated several songs throughout the evening to his longtime love and wife of two years, Gabi, a pediatric nurse.
“I write a lot of love songs and they are all inspired by her,” he said.
McCreery also introduced another song inspired by the relationship, his latest single, “You Time.” More new music followed, including the flirty “Fallin’ for a Stranger” and the heart-wrenching ballad, “Twice a Child,” penned by Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell and Shane Minor. McCreery shared with the audience how the song reminded him of his grandfather, who had been a highway patrolman, and related how difficult it had been to watch as the strong grandfather McCreery grew up idolizing began to slow down as he aged.
McCreery also offered his latest No. 1 hit, “In Between,” marking the first time he has played the song live since it topped the country radio charts in June.
Given the historic venue, McCreery also treated fans to a plethora of cover songs, from the Eagles’ “Take It Easy” to Josh Turner’s “Your Man” the song McCreery auditioned with on Season 10 of American Idol before going on to become that season’s winner.
“You can feel the ghosts of country music past. To play on the stage where Hank Williams has played, George Jones has played, Dolly Parton has played…it’s cool to be a small part of the history here.”
He offered a medley of classic tunes, including Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’,” Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever, Amen,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochie,” and John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident).” Later in the evening he did a cover of Garth Brooks’ “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”
“God bless country music, y’all,” he said.
As hour-and-a-half set drew to a close, McCreery again expressed bewilderment that it has been approximately half a year since he played a show with fans in the seats instead of only viewing over Zoom.
“Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that we played our last show, and sometimes it feels like 20 years ago,” he said, before introducing “Home in my Mind,” and then closing out the set with songs including his 2013 hit “See You Tonight” and 2017’s “Five More Minutes.”
The show, which in many ways mimicked his set from March, proved full-circle for McCreery, and a heartwarming mix of hits and classics.
“I hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we enjoyed being on the Ryman stage, playing country music,” he said.
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