Review: Thomas Rhett Brings Special Guests, Memories to Nashville Tour Stop
Thomas Rhett performed the first of two back-to-back shows at Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater on Thursday night (April 20), the end of the first leg of his 2017 Home Team Tour. The singer-songwriter packed 20 songs into an hour and a half, and took multiple opportunities to highlight his stellar band.
Russell Dickerson and Ryan Hurd were the first two acts onstage on Thursday night, followed by Kelsea Ballerini, who is clearly on her way to earning a large-venue headlining tour of her own soon. The rising star kicked off her energetic, hour-long set with "Yeah Boy," and continued through a string of songs from her debut album, The First Time, including "Stilettos" and "Peter Pan." "Beautiful for a Moment," from Ballerini's forthcoming sophomore album, was also part of her show; she called the song "reflective and nostalgic."
When it was his turn to take the stage, Rhett emerged in a cloud of smoke and kicked off his 90-minute set with "Crash and Burn." He continued with "South Side," and "Get Me Some of That;" then, Maren Morris joined him to perform Rhett's current single, "Craving You."
Rhett didn't often stop his show to chat with the Music City crowd, preferring instead to sing through the songs that fans came to hear. In one humorous moment, he invited a fan -- one who admittedly couldn't sing -- onstage to duet on the Garth Brooks classic "Friends in Low Places."
After a performance of "American Spirit" -- which Rhett dedicated "to all our Armed Forces and troops that are overseas" -- the venue's video screens played a clip of a young Rhett singing various simple songs. The artist used the break to slip out to a stage set up near the back of the crowd.
"I wrote my first song when I was about seven years old with my dad. It was a horrible song. I would like to think I've come a way since then," Rhett shared before singing the first song he ever put out to radio, "Something to Do With My Hands." He teased his next song, "Beer With Jesus," by saying, "Fast forward about six months later: I wrote this song in a dorm room, at Lipscomb University, right down the road. The song talks about beer, which was probably unacceptable at the time."
Rhett dropped a few of his outside cuts -- Lee Brice's "Parking Lot Party," Florida Georgia Line's "Round Here" and Michael Ray's "Think a Little Less" -- into his set. He also invited his good friend Dierks Bentley to join him on that small stage to sing Bentley's No. 1 hit "Somewhere on a Beach."
"Dierks Bentley is one of the main reasons that I love country music so much," Rhett explained. "I feel like, as country music, we are such a community of people. We all root for each other, and we all love each other. Dierks Bentley is one of those people that has been there every time I've ever asked him to be."
Rhett returned to the main stage during his song "Vacation." Danielle Bradbery then joined him to sing "Playing With Fire," their version of which appears on the deluxe edition of Rhett's album Tangled Up; Bradbery's turn on the song showed off her serious pipes -- a voice to which country music needs to pay attention.
To wrap up the night, Rhett ran through several more of his hits: the title track of his freshman album, It Goes Like This, "Make Me Wanna," "Die a Happy Man" and "T-Shirt." As Nashville celebrated the Nashville Predators NHL hockey team's first-round playoffs sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks (the game was going on during Rhett's show), Dickerson, Hurd and Ballerini joined Rhett -- clad in a Preds jersey -- for a cover of Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" to close out the night.
Rhett has several fairs and festivals on his calendar in the upcoming weeks, as well as a series of shows in Canada, during which he will be joined by Brett Young. A list of all of Rhett's upcoming concerts is available on his website.
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