CMA Music Fest Recap: Lady A, Jason Aldean, Kid Rock + More
Mother Nature wreaked havoc at CMA Music Fest on Thursday night causing a three-hour rain delay during the concert at LP Field, but weather for Friday night's event couldn't have been better. There was even a gentle breeze, refreshingly unexpected for a summer night in Nashville. Taking advantage of the optimal weather conditions and the crowd's ready-for-the party spirit, Rodney Atkins, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band, Jake Owen, Jason Aldean and surprise guest Kid Rock made it an event to remember.
It was a night for Georgia artists to shine, as Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan made their home state proud. Luke got the party started with a high-energy performance punctuated by such hits as 'All My Friends Say' and 'Country Man.'
Next to hit the stage was Little Big Town, kicking off their incredible set with Karen Fairchild handling lead vocal duties on their hit 'Fine Line.' Both Karen and Kimberly Schlapman (also a Georgia native) looked stunning; Karen in a sassy little black dress and Kimberly in a flowing, one-sleeved taupe number accented by a striking blue necklace. Next up the ladies, along with LBT's Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet, launched into an energetic version of 'Bones.' They followed with a harmony-drenched cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic, 'The Chain.'
"Here's a song about loving the people in your life while you've got a chance," Jimi told the crowd before Phillip took lead on the poignant 'Vapor' from the group's 'A Place to Land' CD. They closed their set with the rousing 'Boondocks' as the crowd sang along.
Next up, Rodney Atkins proved the CMA Music Fest crowd were "his people" with a high-energy set populated by hits from his 2006 breakthrough album, 'If You're Going Through Hell' and his current CD, 'It's America,' as well as an effective version of the old Johnny Nash classic 'I Can See Clearly Now.' The crowd ate it up as Rodney delivered such No. 1 hits as 'Watching You,' 'Cleaning This Gun (Come On In)' and his most recent chart-topper, 'It's America.' He also served up a rousing version of his newest single, '15 Minutes,' and had the crowd on its feet when he closed with 'If You're Going Through Hell.'
Lady Antebellum was next to take the stage, but their set was plagued by technical problems. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood didn't let the audio difficulties ruffle them, as they smiled and gave it their all despite the fact that at times you couldn't hear their vocals. They opened with their debut hit, 'Love Don't Live Here Anymore.' Then Hillary took the lead -- looking pretty in a short, ruffled lavender dress -- on 'Long Gone.' Next they launched into their current hit single, 'I Run to You,' before delivering a personality-packed performance of the John Mellencamp classic, 'Hurt So Good.' They left with crowd on its feet as they closed their set with 'Lookin' for a Good Time.'
There's a certain look people get when they are living a dream come true, and Jake Owen was wearing it last night. He smiled wide during most of his set, even sometimes during the achingly poignant ballad 'Startin' With Me,' the title track of his 2006 debut disc. He thanked fans for helping 'Don't Think I Can't Love You' climb to No. 2 on the charts and finished out his set with his new single, 'Eight Second Ride,' from his sophomore album 'Easy Does It.'
Before the Zac Brown Band hit the stage, the hosts introduced the audience to the military personnel responsible for the Thunderbirds roaring over LP Field at the beginning of the evening. A sea of uniforms took the stage, and the audience was on their feet with sustained, thunderous applause throughout the introduction of each solider.
Zac Brown Band started their set with the sweet ballad 'Whatever It Is.' "We're not going to talk a lot. We're here to play music," Brown told the crowd as he and his bandmates launched into a blistering cover of the legendary Charlie Daniels hit 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' that would have made Charlie proud. They followed with 'Toes' from their album 'The Foundation' and finished their set with the hit 'Chicken Fried,' as the crowd sang along.
Jason Aldean stormed the stage next and immediately kicked into high gear with the hit 'Johnny Cash.' "Are y'all having a good time?" he asked the crowd as he surveyed the stadium and remarked, "I know how Kenny Chesney feels now."
Dressed in a black Hank Williams Jr. t-shirt, Jason asked if there was anyone there from Texas, and fans from the Lone Star state responded enthusiastically as he launched into a potent performance of 'Amarillo Sky.' He followed that with the gorgeous ballad, 'Why,' from his 2005 self-titled debut album. Next up, he performed 'Big Green Tractor' and 'She's Country,' both from his current album 'Wide Open.' "How many rednecks do we have here in Nashville at CMA Music Fest?" he asked as the crowd roared and he finished his set with an incendiary performance of 'Hicktown.'
Before leaving the stage, Jason revealed the evening's final performer, a surprise appearance by Kid Rock. The crowd was on its feet screaming as he opened with 'Son of Detroit' and the audience continued dancing and shouting during most of Kid's rowdy -- but CMA Music Fest acceptable -- performance. A little of the classic 'Midnight Rider' segued into 'Cowboy.' Then obviously playing to the crowd that was raised on Waylon, Willie and Bocephus, Kid served up a taste of 'Good Ole Boys,' Waylon Jennings' TV theme for 80s show 'The Dukes of Hazzard,' before jumping backing into 'Cowboy.' He delivered a perfect performance that satiated die hard Kid Rock fans, familiar with his multi-platinum successes, yet was respectful of country music's heroes and traditions. There were two stools on the stage as he began singing 'Picture,' and the crowd began looking in the wings, hoping to see Sheryl Crow, his duet partner on the hit song, join him on stage. Though Crow is a Nashville resident and an appearance wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibility, Martina McBride took the stage instead and the audience was happily surprised. Before closing his set, Kid acknowledged our nation's tough times and thanked the crowd for spending their hard-earned money to come out. He finished with his chart-topping hit 'All Summer Long,' and the night concluded with a barrage of fireworks as the tired but happy crowd exited LP Field.