Thomas Rhett took over Bridgestone Arena on Friday night (Sept. 29) for the first of his two “Home Team Tour 23” shows at the Nashville venue. The multi-Platinum artist serenaded the sold-out crowd with a set of hits, some featured on his 20 Number Ones collection, which dropped earlier that day, as well as a few fun covers, and charmed fans with his wholesome, authentic energy.
Rising artist Nate Smith got the evening started. His name flashed in block letters above as he sang the emotion-filled track “Wreckage” before throwing a t-shirt into the audience and jumping into his smash single “Whiskey On You.” Fans belted the chorus back to Smith and bopped side-to-side as orange and white lights circled the stage. He then pumped everyone up for the next opener, country star Cole Swindell, and threw his hat in the air for a lucky concertgoer to catch.
Swindell made his entrance with chart-climbing tune “Drinkaby” along with “Love You Too Late.” Hypnotic purple patterns appeared on the screens behind him and green beams brightened each seat as he moved into “Single Saturday Night.” A retro black and white design followed the beat of the chorus as Swindell walked to each side of the stage, engaging the entire arena. The spotlights brimmed with blue and lifted to land on each corner as he shifted to the title track of his 2022 album, Stereotype. Images of smoke floated above while Swindell sang “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” and checked in with everybody before giving the stands the mic for part of the last verse. The smoke morphed into a mountain-esque landscape for “How Is She,” which the singer deemed one of his favorites from Stereotype.
The stage only changed from warm tones to cool as Swindell soulfully sang “Break Up in the End” and a starry sky peaked behind the trees projected. Once the song concluded, he gave a shoutout to its writers Chase McGill, Jessie Jo Dillon and Jon Nite.
“10 years ago, this whole ride started because of a bunch of friends at country radio, my label and my team. I’ve made some of my favorite memories on stages like this, in front of crowds like y’all,” shared Swindell.
“I got engaged in May and took home a couple of trophies a few days later. I guess what I’m saying is we get to make memories all over this country, but we’re never home. So, can we make a special one right here in Nashville tonight?” he asked the Bridgestone crowd before diving into “Middle of a Memory.”
Swindell then told us he hoped we’d make a hundred more memories tonight as Lainey Wilson appeared on both the left and right stage screens for their duet, “Never Say Never.” He threw it back to his first album next with “Let Me See Ya Girl,” and got the crowds’ hands waving, pausing for a moment to take it all in. Fans held up their phones from below the stage and Swindell never missed an opportunity to help capture the moment by taking selfies while singing.
He moved into his No. 1 hit “Chillin’ It” as the screens mirrored a Miami-like display of vibrant colors and palm trees. The colors faded to black and the lights shined blue as the tone transitioned for the heart-wrenching track, sentimental track “You Should Be Here,” which Swindell dedicated to anyone who has dealt with loss.
“That’s one I wish I never had to write, but songs like that are why I fell in love with country music in the first place, because you know [someone] out there can relate. I want y’all to know I’m just like you, I’ve been through it too.”
He then brought the vibes back up with “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” Before finishing the number, the artist took a moment to thank everyone for coming and recognize the troops that have served our country as well as the first responders and other brave souls who sacrifice their time and risk their lives for us. A visual of a heart beat pulsated on the screens and red lights swirled as Swindell moved into “Flatliner,” which he recorded with Dierks Bentley. The red faded to bright blue as he wrapped with the award-winning “She Had Me At Heads Carolina,” the stands singing just as loud the singer himself.
DJ Daniel Ian Jones kept the energy high in between the openers and headliner, playing a mix genres and encouraging the audience to sing along and dance.
When it came time for Rhett, the arena went black and royal blue smoke rose from the platform as lights flashed to spotlight each band member. Suddenly, a drum set emerged from underneath the stage accompanied by a figure sporting a bomber jacket and baseball cap. After playing for a few seconds, the drummer got up and turned to face Bridgestone, revealing himself as the man of hour. Microphone in hand, Rhett kicked off with “Vacation,” which only made Bridgestone go crazier after his exciting entrance.
Hips kept swaying and toes kept tapping as the superstar shed his jacket and performed the track that marked his 13th No. 1, “Look What God Gave Her.” Next, Rhett had anyone with a cold drink in their hand raise it up for “Half Of Me,” which he recorded alongside Riley Green. Fiery lights covered the venue during “Crash and Burn.” Sweet videos of Rhett’s family were shared with both sides of the stage as he moved into “Life Changes,” his 11th career No. 1. Fall leaves fell into a pile on the screen above while he asked Nashville to put their hands up for “Slow Down Summer.”
Rhett then requested that we all sing “Sixteen” together as rays of pink and blue seemed to flash every time he strummed his guitar. Magenta hues coated the stage and he put his guitar away for the beautifully heart-breaking hit “Marry Me,” during which Rhett passed the pick to crowd members for the final verse.
The entertainer checked in on everybody and asked how the fans in the very top rows were doing before expressing his gratitude to the sold-out stands, and praising Smith and Swindell for their performances. He then took a picture with the whole arena and his band. Rhett announced that the next three songs were for all of the O.G fans in the house, and acoustically played a portion of “Notice” before shifting to “Get Me Some Of That” and “It Goes Like This.”
The steps on the stage glowed, and blue and purple lights shone through the masses as Rhett’s band showed off their incredible talent alongside him for “Make Me Wanna.” Rhett made his way up through the stands as he sang, taking pictures with multiple fans. After the song, he took a moment to spotlight his steel player, Whit Wright, whose wife had just given birth 12 hours prior. He stated that he begged Wright not to come tonight but Wright still showed up, and had us make some noise for the band member. Rhett then wanted to see how loud Nashville could sing he and Jon Pardi‘s “Beer Can’t Fix,” and brought Smith out for the latter half of the tune.
He asked us to keep giving it up for his band and noted that they were now going to play “one for the ladies.” Pink colors coated the room and many loved ones turned to their special girls to serenade them with “Star Of The Show” alongside Rhett. The hitmaker made sure to autograph a few mementoes for fans below and take selfies with audience members throughout his set.
Next, Rhett proceeded to time travel through “seven decades of music in seven minutes,” putting his range of vocal skills on full display.
“I just want to make everyone feel special, no matter the age group,” he said, before kicking the special segment off with Elvis Presley‘s “Hound Dog” from the ’50s.
Bridgestone couldn’t help but boogie during James Brown & The Famous Flames‘ ’60s hit “I Feel Good (I Got You).” He opted for The Rolling Stones‘ “Beast Of Burden” as the ’70s choice, due to that fact that his father, renowned songwriter Rhett Akins, is a huge fan of the band. The artist requested that we go electric for Rick Springfield‘s ’80s classic “Jessie’s Girl.” The ’90s baby then rocked out Matchbox Twenty‘s “3AM,” and entered the 2000s with Jimmy Eat World‘s “The Middle,” sharing a story about purchasing their CD at a store with his grandmother. Rhett wrapped the throwback session with the 2010s smash “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon.
He brought out his turquoise acoustic guitar for chart-topper “Die A Happy Man,” a song Rhett says “changed his life.” One of his band members gave quite a guitar solo before the audience belted the last verse. Everyone kept singing as the music of “Unforgettable” filled the space. Red tones lit the stage stairs and explosions burst on the screens as Rhett went into “Craving You,” a track he recorded with Maren Morris.
He kept the entire arena jamming up until the very end with “What’s Your Country Song” and “T-Shirt,” confetti flying as the show came to a close.
Additionally, Rhett recently earned his 21st No. 1 with Angels (Don’t Always Have Wings), and was announced as a headliner for CBS’ New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash on Dec. 31.
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