Nashville, TN

Jason Aldean, FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Morgan Wallen Join Luke Bryan as He Rocks Nashville

Deborah Evans Price

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Luke Bryan at Nashville's Bridgestone ArenaPhoto credit: Ethan Helms

By Deborah Evans Price

Fans who attended Luke Bryan’s sold-out show Friday night (July 30) at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena got much more than expected as Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Morgan Wallen took the stage as surprise guests. The camaraderie was palpable as the foursome served up up their hits and shared beers with the audience. Bryan promised the fans a party to remember and he more than delivered.

Though the extra star power was a nice surprise for the rowdy capacity crowd, Bryan didn’t need any help in giving attendees a memorable night. Having his friends join the fun was just the icing on an already delicious night of music. Opening acts Caylee Hammack and Dylan Scott both turned in impressive sets. Hammack’s distinctive voice and buoyant stage presence won over the crowd and she looked stunning in a sparkling fringed jumpsuit.

Scott prowled the stage shaking hands and thoroughly engaging the crowd during his set. In addition to his originals, the Louisiana native delivered a solid rendition of the Brooks & Dunn anthem “Red Dirt Road” and encouraged anyone in the crowd who wasn’t familiar with the late Keith Whitley to check out his music before he performed “When You Say Nothing at All.” (Personally, one of my favorite projects is An Old Memory, Scott’s 2019 seven-song tribute to Whitley.) He continued on the nostalgia trail performing a medley of ’90s country hits that included Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It,” David Lee Murphy’s “Dust on the Bottle” and George Strait’s “Check Yes or No.” Scott also thrilled the crowd with his own No. 1 hits “Nobody” and “My Girl” as well as delivering his rising single “New Truck.” All in all, it was an entertaining set that showcased his rich, resonant voice and crowd-pleasing energy that signaled he’s on his way to headliner status.

DJ Rock kept the audience dancing during set change and by the time, Bryan hit the stage the crowd was primed and ready. The Leesville, GA native didn’t disappoint. Though Bryan dominates country radio airwaves with hit after hit and has carved a successful spot on television as an American Idol judge, the stage is Bryan’s true home. The five-time Entertainer of the Year, currently the Academy of Country Music’s reigning EOTY, demonstrated his right to the title repeatedly before the hometown crowd.

Bryan hit the stage with his 2013 hit “That’s My Kind of Night” and set the tone for the rowdy musical adventure that was to come. Fans sang along as he took it back to 2010 with “Rain is a Good Thing” and followed up with 2018’s “What Makes You Country,” the title of his sixth studio album.

“Do y’all mind if I do a little tequila shot?” Bryan asked the crowd before toasting Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators NHL team. He then queried the crowd as to whether they had been doing any hunting and fishing during the pandemic and then he launched into “Huntin,’ Fishin,’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” a 2016 chart-topping single Bryan wrote with Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip.

Bryan followed with “Knockin’ Boots” and “Kick the Dust” up before reminding the crowd that they were in the No. 1 party city in the USA. “It’s been over a year and a half and it’s time for music fans to get their money’s worth tonight cause I don’t know if we’ll be doing this next week. Y’all might be drinking beer through a mask in two weeks. Who knows?” he said and when the crowd expressed their displeasure,” he said, “It’s not my damn rules.”

He referenced pandemic woes again when he told the crowd that playing a guitar over Zoom ranked right up there with a colonoscopy. “I’m so glad to be playing live music tonight,” he said as he launched into his latest hit “Waves.” He followed with “Down to One,” the fourth single from his Born Here Live Here Die Here album and kept the hits coming with “What She Wants Tonight” and “One Margarita,” also from Born Here Live Here Die Here. In the middle of “One Margarita,” much to the crowd’s delight, he added a splash of Kenny Chesney’s “When the Sun Goes Down.”

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Caylee Hammack, Luke Bryan and Dylan ScottPhoto credit: Ethan Helms

At this point, it was after 10pm and Bryan let the crowd know they were nowhere near going home, he then advised them to avoid any restroom breaks because something special was about to happen. Then Hammack and Scott joined him to revive his 2007 debut single “All My Friends Say” and had the crowd singing along loudly.

Next, he surprised the audience by welcoming Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard to perform “This is How We Roll,” a FGL hit that had featured Bryan. Hubbard thrilled the audience when he told them Bryan had planned to break the 11pm curfew at the venue so they could expect the fun to continue. And indeed, it did, as Bryan welcomed Aldean. They ripped into Aldean’s hit “I Won’t Back Down.”

Both Hubbard and Aldean’s appearances were big surprises for the audience, but what happened next was monumental. When Morgan Wallen walked out on stage the crowd went crazy. He received an immediate and enthusiastic standing ovation. Wallen has been absent from performing since his neighbor’s security camera caught him using a racial slur when he came home drunk with friends in the middle of the night earlier this year. He was dropped from his label and radio chains pulled his music from the airwaves as he publicly apologized and headed to rehab.

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From left: Tyler Hubbard, Morgan Wallen, Jason Aldean, Luke BryanPhoto credit: Ethan Helms

“This is a song about staying true to yourself and that’s been a really hard thing for me to do lately, but here I am,” Wallen told the crowd before singing his chart-topping hit “More Than My Hometown” as the crowd went nuts. Afterward, Bryan urged Wallen to do another one and he served up his monster hit “Whiskey Glasses.” In the wake of the scandal, there’s been much debate about Wallen’s future in country music, but the fans at the show seemed more than ready to welcome him back.

The foursome on stage dipped into drink coolers and supplied the fans with adult beverages as the music continued with Aldean’s hit “She’s Country.” “That’s the most fun I’ve ever had on stage right there Nashville,” Bryan enthusiastically told the crowd as his pals exited the stage.

And the party wasn’t near over, Bryan kept serving up the hits with “Crash My Party,” “Roller Coaster,” the sultry “Strip it Down” and the poignant ode to loss “Drink a Beer.” The crowd happily sang along as he delivered “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset.” Bryan showed off his signature dance moves during the hit “Move” and thrilled a fan by singing directly to her during “Play it Again.” The audience was on its feet during his mega hit “Country Girl (Shake it for Me).” He exited the stage but the crowd wasn’t ready for the show to be over and he re-emerged during thunderous applause to deliver the final song “I Don’t Want This Night to End.” “This has been one of the favorite nights of my life,” he told the crowd as he concluded more than two hours of performing and thanked them for being there.

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Dylan Scott, Luke Bryan, Caylee HammackPhoto Courtesy Luke Bryan Instagram

This was the seventh stop on Bryan’s Proud to Be Right Here Tour, which continues throughout the summer and fall. Armed with a lengthy arsenal of hits, his enduring everyman charm and more energy than the Energizer Bunny, it’s a sure bet Bryan’s tour will continue to be one of the hottest tickets this concert season. He promises a party and you can tell it brings Bryan great deal of joy to deliver on that promise.

2021 PROUD TO BE RIGHT HERE TOUR DATES:
Aug 5   Bangor, ME – Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion
Aug 6   Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion           
Aug 7   Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
Aug 8   Philadelphia, PA – BB&T Pavilion
Aug 12 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Aug 13 Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater 
Aug 14 Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Amphitheater 
Aug 19 St. Louis, MO – Hollywood Casino Amphitheater
Aug 20 Indianapolis, IN – Ruoff Music Center
Aug 21 Chicago, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Aug 27 Rogers, AR – Walmart AMP
Aug 28 Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion
Aug 29 Brandon, MS – Brandon Amphitheater 
Sept 3   Welch, MN – Treasure Island Amphitheater
Sept 23 San Diego, CA – North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre
Sept 24 Phoenix, AZ – AK-Chin Pavilion
Sept 30 Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater              
Oct 1    Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater
Oct 2    Portland, OR – Sunlight Supply Amphitheater
Oct 8    Los Angeles, CA – STAPLES Center 
Oct 9    Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
Oct 10  Sacramento, CA – Toyota Amphitheatre
Oct 14  Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre
Oct 15  Fresno, CA – Save Mart Center 
Oct 16  San Bernardino, CA – Glen Helen Amphitheater 

Dylan Scott on all dates
Caylee Hammack on all dates through August 14
Runaway June on all dates beginning August 19
DJ Rock on all dates

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Being a journalist is like having a special license to explore the world, and I've found over the years there's no place I love exploring more than Nashville, Tennessee! After decades in Music City, I'm still finding new people and places that fascinate me. Join me on the journey!

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