Portentous clouds hovered over LP field on Saturday evening, rolling in around 6 PM and threatening to interrupt the third CMA Music Festival nighttime concert.
After a short delay, fans were allowed to take their seats around 8:45. By 9:30 the show got rolling, as Sara Evans opened with her entered the stage, as the rain started pouring down on the sea of 60,000 fans with and without ponchos, all of whom were drenched but ready to have a good time.
Sara Evans performs at LP Field on Saturday, June 7 during the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: Donn Jones / CMA
She opened the show with her second No. 1 hit, “Born To Fly.” Undeterred by a sudden strong rain, the audience took to the field, dashing, singing and splashing along.
Evans then sang “As If,” whose lyric “I’m actin’ as if this blue sky’s never gonna rain down on me,” provoked laughter from listeners. When she exited the stage at the end of her set, the sky lit up white with lightning; the crowd gasped at the theatrical timing.
Katie Cook, who co-hosted the evening with CMT colleagues Cody Alan and Alecia Davis, rallied the crowd to put their wet hands together for Little Big Town, who ran out and opened with “Little White Church.” Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman shared a microphone during the chorus and in some parts the whole band gathered around it to sing together, visually reflecting the members’ camaraderie.
Little Big Town performs at LP Field on Saturday, June 7 during the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: John Russell / CMA
They followed with another storm-related song, “Tornado,” whose promises to “hide the sun until you pray” added another layer of irony to the unrelenting rain. This didn’t escape Schlapman’s notice as she shouted “CMA Fest, y’all are such troopers! Rain is a good thing, right? I have one question for y’all! Listen to me! Anybody been doing a little day drinkin’?”
Darius Rucker performs at LP Field on Saturday, June 7 during the 2014 CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. Photo: John Russell
And that led neatly to a performance of “Day Drinkin’.” Darius Rucker hit the stage next with a cheery attitude and a few surprises. The crowd roared and laughed as he sang the opening lines of “Comeback Song” – “I woke up again this morning/ And wouldn’t you know it… pouring rain!” He then covered Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Only Wanna Be With You” with the crowd clapping along. He closed with “Wagon Wheel” as some audience members held up big red wagon wheels and swayed along to the rhythm. When he reached the line that says “Johnson City, Tennessee” he was silent, giving the crowd a chance to yell out Tennessee and making for and lively ending to his set.