Morgan Wallen kicked off his three-night stay at Nashville’s Bridgestone arena with a jam-packed evening of music on Wednesday (March 16).
His entertaining show covered a lot of his 30-song, top-selling sophomore project, Dangerous: The Double Album. The project, which topped the all-genre Billboard 200 Albums year-end chart with 3.2 million units sold in 2021, also just won Album of the Year at the 2022 ACM Awards.
Interestingly, the singer started his set tenderly, rising up onto the stage, seated at a piano to play his most recent No. 1 hit, “Sand In My Boots.” Wallen donned a brown corduroy pearl-snap shirt, jeans and Tecovas, and smiled up into the crowd who cheered furiously.
After ramping things up for “Something Country” and “Up Down,” Wallen addressed the hometown crowd.
“My name is Morgan Wallen. I really appreciate you being here tonight,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who believed in me for a long time in the building tonight, a lot of people who have been through a lot with me. This is very special to me.
“Most of the songs we’re going to play tonight just won ACM Album of the Year,” he added. “And it wouldn’t have been possible without y’all.”
Wallen played 17 songs from Dangerous, in addition to some older material. He sounded great throughout the night, sometimes with an even more pronounced country accent than what’s featured on the recordings. Fans raged for his redneck-and-proud anthems, “Still Goin Down,” “Country Ass Shit,” and “Somethin’ Country.” The women in the audience, of which there were many, squealed over his romantic side on “Silverado For Sale,” “Somebody’s Problem,” “More Than My Hometown,” and “Seven Summers.”
Wallen also kept the visual affects to a minimum. The two big screens stayed on him most of the time, and his stage lit up with flames and smoke on his more hard-hitting tracks. But as it turns out, he didn’t need much pizzazz. If Wallen and his arsenal of streaming hits weren’t enough, he enlisted a lot of special guests throughout the night.
Frequent collaborator and label-mate Ernest, who Wallen referenced throughout the night when telling stories behind some of the songs, finally joined him on stage to perform their collaboration, “Flower Shops.” Bridgestone Arena went wild for Ernest, and the Nashville native gleamed back.
Jimmie Allen joined him at one point to perform a rousing version of Wallen’s debut single, “The Way I Talk.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was when Country Music Hall of Famer Ronnie Dunn casually strolled out onstage to help Wallen sing “Talkin’ Tennessee.” The two then traded verses on “Neon Moon,” with Wallen grinning ear to ear at the legend. “You’re killin’ it man!” Dunn told him.
Both Hardy and Larry Fleet, who served as openers for the show, re-joined Wallen at some point to sing with the star.
A highlight of the evening came with Wallen’s cover of Jason Isbell‘s “Cover Me Up.” He instructed concert-goers to pull out their cell phones to light the arena as he sang. His signature rasp, paired with thousands of people singing along, made for a special moment.
Wallen closed his set with an encore of “Heartless,” his new single “Wasted On You,” and his first No. 1, “Whiskey Glasses.”
Throughout the night, Wallen spoke with a lot of pride for his homestate, and a lot of love for his fans.
“For me it was always music and baseball,” he said. “I always imagined myself playing the World Series or something. I never thought I’d be in Bridgestone Arena singing music, that’s for sure. But it feels like the World Series for me tonight.”
Hardy was also thrilled to play for a Nashville crowd. The singer-songwriter leaned heavily into his rock sensibilities throughout his high-energy set, even playing his brand new rock single “Sold Out.” He was visibly psyched performing “4X4” and “Unapologetically Country As Hell,” showing off his significant growth in confidence as a showman.
“I’m very thankful to call myself a hit songwriter at this point in my career,” Hardy told the crowd before performing a hit he co-wrote for Blake Shelton, “God’s Country.” He also brought special guests for the first Nashville night. Lauren Alain and Devin Dawson joined him for their hit song, “One Beer.”
Larry Fleet got the evening started with some songs from his first full-length album, Stack Of Records. Later he joined Wallen onstage for his critically-acclaimed track “Where I Find God.”
Wallen, Hardy, and Fleet will hit the Nashville stage again Thursday and Friday night. Tickets are still available here.
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