After a day of meeting country music stars, getting autographs, and listening to country music in 90 degree temperatures, you might think the fans who flocked to Nashville for the CMA Music Festival would spend the night recuperating from the long, hot day’s activities. However, the chance to see Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Julianne Hough, Josh Turner and Kid Rock drew tens of thousands of fans to Nashville’s LP Field the night of June 11 for the concert experience of a lifetime, in spite of the oppressive heat and humidity.
The impressive Music Fest stage was built around a massive central screen flanked by a deceptively simple assembly of towers made of horizontal lights. On either side of the stage stood slightly smaller screens. The stage was imposing, but subtle enough to let the artists be the main attraction.
Julianne Hough, of “Dancing with the Stars” fame, got the enthusiastic crowd up on their feet, although it was hard to tell whether they preferred Hough’s sparkly micro-mini or the songs she introduced from her upcoming album.
Hough was followed by country artist Josh Turner who roused the audience to a fever pitch when he drew out the last line of his hit song “Long Black Train,” causing frenetic fans to scream so loudly, it was a miracle no one burst an ear drum. Turner continued with songs like “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and scored points expressing his heartfelt thanks to the crowd for coming to the concert.
Miranda Lambert took the stage next, sharing memories of visiting the festival before she was a recording star. Lambert sang some uptempo fan favorites like “Famous in a Small Town,” “Gunpowder & Lead” and “Kerosene.” Fans reacted positively to Lambert’s music, singing along with the country artist.
Keith Urban, who performed hits like “Kiss a Girl” and “Real Thing,” delivered the night’s most emotional moment when he announced he was going to do “something a little special.” He paused to introduce his band, and then Urban sang the Beatles’ hit “I Get By (with a Little Help from My Friends)” while a video montage of the recent devastating Nashville flood was shown on the screen. The song and video were so well received by screaming fans that Urban did it all over again!
For many, the highlight of the evening was seeing one of country music’s biggest legends, Reba McEntire. Due to technical difficulties, it was almost an hour between Urban’s set and McEntire’s — long enough for a wedding ceremony to take place on stage — but McEntire was worth the wait. After a slide show of Reba McEntire through the years (including a clip from cult favorite “Tremors”), she performed several of her best-loved hits, from “Strange” and “Consider Me Gone” to “I Keep On Loving You” and “I Want a Cowboy.” McEntire brought the house down with her last song, “Fancy.” Watching her connect and interact with her audience while she sang, it was obvious why Reba McEntire has remained a perennial fan favorite.
The night’s most controversial performer was rapper/rocker Kid Rock. Not usually considered a country singer, Kid Rock came out just after midnight, silhouetted behind a backlit curtain, singing “Rock N Roll Jesus.” However, he got a few country licks in with songs like “All Summer Long” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” as well as a medley of “Cowboy” and the “Theme From The Dukes of Hazzard.” Although the hour was late, more than half of the packed stadium stayed to enjoy Kid Rock’s show.
While there were occasional technical difficulties throughout the night, the CMA Friday night concert at LP Field was memorable, not just because of who performed, but because of the energy of the crowd, the quality of the performances, and the unique opportunity fans had to come down to the stage in the photo line and take a couple of quick shots of their favorite country artists while the stars performed. The CMA Music Fest concert was not only a sell out, but Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, Miranda Lambert, Josh Turner and Julianne Hough proved that a country music event can be even hotter than the Nashville weather.
CMA Music Fest in Nashville- June 11 Highlights