Saturday night (July 29) in Nashville was a wash out, but before the torrential downpour began, fans came out in droves to Nissan Stadium to see the king of country music, George Strait.
The Country Music Hall of Famer played two nights in Music City, performing for just over two hours on Friday night (July 28) after sets from Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town.
The Grammy, ACM, CMA, AMA and Emmy Award-winning Little Big Town were enthusiastic when kicking off Saturday night’s show. The foursome traveled through a selection of hits from their two decades as a band, thrilling fans with stompers like “Boondocks,” “Little White Church,” “Pontoon” and “Day Drinking.”
The band brought fans in close for their Grammy-winning “Girl Crush,” and they swayed along to the Taylor Swift-written “Better Man.” Little Big Town closed their set with the rousing “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” warming the Nissan Stadium crowd up for the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year to take the stage.
When Stapleton appeared onstage, he did it without bells and whistles. The talented singer kicked things off with “Nobody to Blame” and “Parachute” before letting the crowd know that he wasn’t going to spend much time talking in order to get as much music in as he could during his 90-minute set.
Fans raised their hands and danced along to “Starting Over,” “Millionaire” and “You Should Probably Leave” before Stapleton gave them a taste of his new music, playing a thrilling sample of his upcoming album with his new single “White Horse.”
After rocking out on “Cold” and taking us back to his 2015 breakthrough with “Traveller,” Stapleton created a special moment in Nissan Stadium with “Fire Away.” After he and his band got through the song, he enlisted the crowd to sing the chorus one more time with their cell phone lighters in the air.
Stapleton closed his set with “Broken Halos,” which earned one of the biggest reactions of the night, and his record-breaking cover of “Tennessee Whiskey.”
Next up, it was time for the man of the hour. When Strait took the stage in a long-sleeved, button-down, he didn’t appear as hot as the rest of us. He was grinning ear-to-ear, ready to play the beloved country music he’s made for over four decades.
Strait started his set with “Stars on the Water” and “I Got a Car.”
The first sprinkling of rain started during the third song of his set, 1984’s “The Fireman.” Just as he sang the words “I can cool ’em down when they’re smolderin’ hot,” he did exactly that.
The rain came in increments for the next 11 songs. After getting the gals on their feet for “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls,” he lured them in with the entrancing “Run,” which made for one of the night’s highlights.
Fans stayed engaged while Strait transitioned from hit to hit, thrilling fans with “I Can Still Make Cheyenne,” “Check Yes or No,” “Ocean Front Property” and “She’ll Leave You With a Smile.”
During “The Weight of the Badge,” photos of service men and women flashed on the screens. When a photo of two of Nashville’s hometown heroes—Officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo who led the charge on stopping the shooter at The Covenant School in March—appeared on the screen, the Music City crowd roared, marking another touching moment of the evening.
Strait invited Stapleton back out on stage for a fun cover of the Townes Van Zandt-written “Pancho and Lefty,” that Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard made famous. Then Strait introduced a tune that Stapleton wrote for the country icon’s 2013 album Love Is Everything, “You Don’t Know What You’re Missing.”
“Back in the day, I recorded a few of [Chris’] tunes. You may not have heard this one, it was never a single,” Strait said, to which Stapleton replied, “It still can be!”
As Strait and Stapleton sang the tune, the rain really picked up. By the end, Strait had a disappointed look on his face. With genuine sadness in his voice, he told the crowd that he had five minutes before we had to seek shelter.
As attendees turned to evacuate while the rain started pouring, Strait’s enduring country voice rang out, “Amarillo by mornin’, up from San Antone. Everything that I got is just what I’ve got on.” Fans turned and smiled at the consummate entertainer as he tried to make the most of the minute we had left in a chill-bump inducing moment.
When he was finished, the storm was raging and most concert goers were in the breezeways of Nissan Stadium. Strait’s voice could be heard for several minutes following, saying, “Be safe everyone.”
Although the night ended prematurely, Strait gave it his all for an hour of hits, new memories and country music history.
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