FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS UP AT LP FIELD
CMA Music Festival turned out to be the “world’s largest family reunion” on Friday night.
As fans filed into LP Field, they didn’t know what exhilarating performances and surprise guest appearances would be in store. But the nightly concert at 2014 CMA Music Festival proved to be just that and even more.
Storme Warren, host of Great American Country’s “Headline Country” program, introduced 17-year-old Danielle Bradbery to sing the National Anthem in honor of all the men and women who have served, as well as to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in World War I. Fireworks illuminated the dusky sky as she finished her flawless rendition.
With a guitar in his hand and a raspy Southern rock voice, Travis Tritt took the stage and opened with “Put Some Drive In Your Country.” He then introduced himself to the audience and let them know exactly how thrilled he was to be in Music City before breaking into his song, “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive.”
The four-time CMA Award winner finished by readying the fans to get a little rowdy for the rest of the night ahead.
“When people are having a bit of fun, I like to start a little T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” said Tritt, as he jammed through his hit, “Trouble.”
Between sets, Warren introduced some of his co-hosts for the evening. Pete and Dan King, from “Farm Kings” on GAC, came out first. They were followed by Amie and Jolie Sikes of “Junk Gypsies” and “Brother Vs. Brother” stars Jonathan and Drew Scott.
Warren also talked about Keep The Music Playing, the CMA initiative that has been contributing to public school music education since 2006. Half of the profits from CMA Music Festival are donated to the program, thanks to the generosity of attendees as well as the performing artists, who play for free in lieu of charging their performance fee.
Smoke blew onstage when Eric Church made his way out to start off with “The Outsiders.” Concertgoers began “Creepin’” with Church and when he played his hit, “Give Me Back My Hometown”; fans made him feel right at home by screaming the words along with him. And he proved that “That’s Damn Rock and Roll” when he brought out Lzzy Hale from Halestorm to help him finish hid set with a searing guest vocal.
Head-banging and fist-pumping their way onto the stage, The Band Perry struck like the lightning that flashed briefly overhead. The family trio rocked out to their hits, “Done” and “You Lie.” After playing a short cover of the Kesha and Pitbull song, “Timber,” Kimberly Perry gave a speech about how grateful they were to be playing for a true crowd of Country fans.
“This is Country Music’s heartbeat, right in this field,” she said.
When the fans sang the first words to “If I Die Young,” the band looked ecstatic and humbled by the echoing chorus in the stadium. They concluded their set with a triple floor-tom solo, by the siblings themselves, to “Better Dig Two.”
Beach balls bounced through the audience as Jason Aldean hit the stage, playing “My Kinda Party.” A sea of arms swayed back and forth for “Dirt Road Anthem” and the energy picked right back up for “She’s Country.”
Being a Georgia boy himself, Aldean wanted to bring out a special guest from his home state.
“Here is one of my homeboys from Georgia, Mr. Travis Tritt,” he yelled. They ended the set with a duet of Tritt’s song, “Homesick.”
Miranda Lambert strutted as the “Fastest Girl In Town,” with her pink guitar slung over her shoulders. She dazzled in her bejeweled bustier and silver boots, worn in honor of her album, Platinum, which had released on Tuesday. Sassy as usual, Lambert navigated the stage with her rough-and-ready attitude in tow. Between “Priscilla” and “Automatic,” she admitted to the pain of her sparkling ensemble.
“Good Lord, I can’t breathe in this,” she panted. “I’m gonna need a drink after this.”
Lambert seemed to abruptly end her set and run offstage. But as the lights faded, a video montage of famous strong women blasted onto the big screens, after which Lambert brought out Carrie Underwood to perform “Something Bad.”
Keeping things calm and collected, Blake Shelton rolled out playing “Doin’ What She Likes.” Gwen Sebastian, formerly with Shelton’s team from “The Voice,” joined him for a quick duet of their new single, “My Eyes,” before he made his opening statement.
“This is one of … ” said Shelton, and then he interrupted himself. “Ah, screw it! This is my favorite crowd to play for!”
He threw a flashback Friday moment by playing his first No. 1 song, “Austin,” and instructed the fans to “sing along really freaking loud” so he could actually remember the words. When the crowd then heard “redneck” on repeat, they started shaking it like Dixie crystal to “Boys ‘Round Here” and Shelton ended the night on a high note.
“You guys love Country Music almost as much as I do.”
That they do.