Concert Review: Luke Bryan Proves He’s Entertainer of the Year Material on 2015 Kick the Dust Up Tour
The soaring Tennessee heat didn't keep more than 30,000 Luke Bryan fans from spending most of Saturday (July 11) in the sun, waiting for the star of the night to take the stage for his 2015 Kick the Dust Up Tour stop at Nashville's Vanderbilt Stadium.
In addition to Bryan himself, the country superstar's Music City show featured an impressive lineup of opening acts: Dustin Lynch, Thomas Rhett, Randy Houser and Florida Georgia Line each tore through some of their biggest hits after the concert kicked off around 5:30PM. FGL, the final opening act of the night, played for almost an hour, keeping the crowd on their feet through songs like "We Do This Every Night," "This Is How We Roll" and "Sun Daze." The country duo wrapped up their set with their multi-platinum debut single, "Cruise."
"This is where we started," the newly married Tyler Hubbard said from stage during Florida Georgia Line's performance of their 2014 No. 1 hit "Dirt." "This is where we became husbands. This is where we'll raise a family."
As darkness settled over the stadium and Bryan's 9:30PM start time drew closer, the anticipation built. Then, amid a backdrop of flashing lights, fireworks and the sound of a motorcycle revving, Bryan emerged from the center of a catwalk that led from the main stage, kicking the night off with the tour's namesake tune, "Kick the Dust Up," from his upcoming Kill the Lights album.
The Georgia native immediately launched into "All My Friends Say," while he caught and tossed beer cans into the crowd. Throughout songs including "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," "Roller Coaster" and "Play It Again," Bryan kept the crowd standing, encouraging the audience to sing along.
"I've done a lot of amazing things in my life, but standing here in Music City in front of a sold-out crowd ..." Bryan mused from stage. "[But] what in the hell is going on with this heat?
"This is the hottest s--t," he continued, as sweat poured off of him, soaking his bright blue T-shirt. "I'm sorry, girls. Your hair has gone to s--t ... We're gonna need some Pedialyte. We're gonna drink what the babies drink."
The country music hitmaker then invited Lynch, Rhett and Houser back on stage to do a shot of tequila while he sat at a piano at the end of the catwalk, where he remained for most of the night.
"Everybody on this stage moved to this town to follow a dream," Bryan said with the shot glass in his hand, "and you guys made it possible."
The foursome then launched into a jaw-dropping rendition of Maroon 5's "Sugar," with Houser playing bass guitar for what he said was only the "eighth time" in his life.
"That's what happens when you tour with me," Bryan said. "You might have to do things you don't typically do."
Florida Georgia Line's Hubbard and Brian Kelley then returned to the stage, performing Alabama's "Mountain Music," with Bryan remaining on piano. He tried to continue with a rendition of Journey's "Open Arms," before Hubbard admitted that he didn't know all the words.
"I'm forever yours, Florida Georgia Line," Bryan quipped as the guys left the stage.
Bryan continued the fun by singing "Crash My Party" and "Someone Else Calling You Baby," the latter of which included a blond-haired little girl from the crowd joining Bryan on stage for the first half of the song. The 38-year-old then sang "Do I" and "Drink a Beer" from the edge of a wooden pier, with two Miller Lite cans sitting behind him.
"I know a lot of you guys out there have lost someone that you used to drink a beer with," Bryan said, inviting the audience to light up their cellphones in their memory. He then sang the final chorus, "So I'm gonna sit right here on the edge of this pier / And watch the sunset disappear / And drink a beer," twice with the crowd, the backdrop of darkness illuminated only by the lights from phones all over the stadium.
After the stage went completely to black, Bryan returned for a two-song encore to wrap up the unforgettable evening. A video showed Bryan shooting a flaming arrow, which seemed to land onstage at the end of the catwalk, lighting the surrounding area with fire as Bryan emerged from below the stage, standing on top of a black pickup truck, where he remained to perform "That's My Kind of Night." Bryan then ended the night with his first multi-platinum hit, "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)," as fireworks exploded all over the stadium.
Throughout his entire 90-minute performance, even with the sweltering heat, Bryan never wavered in his dedication to making sure that each fan, from young to old, was entertained. From his heartfelt thanks to the audience to his gracious recognition of each of his band members, it's clear that Bryan takes his headliner status seriously. Both diehard fans and new ones were captivated not only by his chart-topping songs but his never-ending charisma.
Bryan's 2015 Kick the Dust Up Tour continues this week with two back-to-back shows in St. Louis, followed by a stop in Cincinnati, Ohio. A complete list of dates and ticket information is available on his website.
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