Posted on 7/4/2012
Saturday Night June 9th 2012 was night three of the CMA Music Fest stadium concerts. Mike Arnold, Brian Hasbrook, and Tom Thompson were on hand for the coverage. On this night the performers included; Luke Bryan, Faith Hill, Eric Church, Little Big Town, and Hunter Hayes. Enjoy listening to our podcast coverage and reading Mike Arnold’s blog review.
Written by Mike Arnold
It was night three of four, Saturday night at LP Field for the CMA Music Festival. This night was my favorite night, although I didn’t think it would be in the beginning. As we walked in the stadium Kenny Rogers was leaving the stage, so we didn’t arrive in time to cover his very short set.
The next act to take the stage was the twenty-year old Hunter Hayes, which some people call him the Justin Bieber of Country Music. The one thing that stands out to me is his guitar ability. Hunter took the stage to “Love Makes Me” and followed with “Somebody’s Heartbreak”. He then instructed for the stadium lights to be turned on so he could take a quick video of the audience from the stage. He asked if everyone would tag themselves on the photo through Facebook and Twitter because he won’t have time. Hunter said he was going to play his first country single and thanked everyone for it as he introduced, “Storm Warning”. At the end of that song, Hunter Hayes ran from the stage through the crowd to a couple of sections from the stage to sit at a grand piano as he said it was time to perform a love song as he introduced his second single, “Wanted”. From there Hunter said, “I love you guys, God Bless you.” As the young females screamed!
Before the next scheduled act too the stage they announced a surprise guest (I love when they do this!) as Rodney Atkins took the stage to perform one of his latest songs, “Just Wanna Rock and Roll”. The CMA crowd loved his one song performance and I know they would have enjoyed much more from this hit maker.
Luke Bryan took the tall stage in the middle of the crowd for the ABC TV Special to introduce the next scheduled artist to perform as he said, “Please welcome four of my closest friends, Karen, Kimberly, Jimi, and Phillip. Together they are LBT, Little Big Town!” Little Big Town took the stage to the tune of “Good Lord Willing” and followed with “Little White Church”. LBT sounded good as ever with their tight vocal harmonies. Kimberly yells, “We are gonna usher you right into summertime with a little bit of “Pontoon”!” The crowd exploded with cheers of approval. They continued with another new tune called “Sober”. Although the CMA fans enjoyed their set thus far, their set’s closure was a huge favorite of their set and one of the biggest hits of the festival when they began the song, “Boondocks”. Little Big Town thanked the attendees and left the stage. An excellent performance!
The main act I was looking forward to see came on next, Eric Church. The host of the evening had a unique way of introducing Eric, “I think some of you are having waaayy too much fun, so you know what? I think it’s time we all go to CHURCH!” The crowd screamed in agreement as the host continued, “Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for the Chief himself, ERIC CHURCH!” That is when LP Field heard the loudest screams of the night… Thus Far! Eric’s band started as he walked to his microphone stand to lead the crowd with the sing-along, “Drink In My Hand”. In the middle of the song Eric admitted, “This is my first time ever to be invited to play LP Field. Here’s what that means… That means I’m gonna give you every ounce of everything that I have, alright? As long as you give me every ounce of everything you have!” Of course there were more screams of approval. He finished his song with getting the people to sing along louder than before. Eric continued his set with “Guys Like Me”. The beach balls (sneaked in by an entire section in the stands) where flying all over the field as Eric performed, “Smoke A Little Smoke”. Eric asked the CMA fans if they were doing good and said he was having a really, really good time right now… And you could definitely tell it! He continued with another crowd favorite, “Love Your Love The Most”. Eric strapped on a banjo for the tune, “Creepin’”. Eric then walked to his piano to perform his last song of the evening, “Springsteen”. Eric Church definitely woke the crowd up. It’s great to see a performer come so far so quick. Way to go Eric!
Faith Hill was next to perform as she walked out with a red long sleeve sweater-type top and blue jeans. Usually the women dress up to perform on this special occasion, but on this night Faith was dressed casual… And She Looked Great! Faith started her set with “Mississippi Girl” and continued with “This Kiss”. Faith addressed the audience, “Oh My Goodness! How Are You Doing?” After the screams calmed down she added, “Alright this is a new song. We hope you like it, it’s called “Overrated”.” Faith continued with another new song, “Illusion”. Faith began to sing the words, “Precious Jesus” as she transitioned into her hit, “Breathe”. The problem with this is she was trying to get the crowd to sing the first verse of the song, but not many knew the words. However once the chorus started, you could see people mouthing the words, but we all wanted to hear Faith’s strong voice so they really didn’t want to sing it out. Faith closed out her set with Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart”, which the crowd loved! Faith said her “God Bless” and goodnights as she left the stage. Faith was ok, not bad at all, but not real good either. She just performed her songs without much enthusiasm or energy at all.
The next act was totally different as Luke Bryan took the stage with nearly every person in the stadium on their feet dancing and singing along as he started his longer than usual CMA Fest set with, “Rain Is A Good Thing”. Luke asked, “Nashville! Where are my country girls out there? Are there any country girls that know how to make some speakers go ‘Boom-Boom’ out there?” That brought the loud cheers even louder as he got the crowd to sing along with “Drunk On You”. Luke went to sit down at the piano and said, “I’m a horrible piano player. I can’t even say piano.” He continued with, “Here’s the deal, for a few minutes I’m gonna play whatever comes on my mind, alright? Whatever comes across my brain, alright?” He wasn’t kidding either as he went through some portions of various cover songs that were very much out of character for a country music artist… but that is what made it fun!
He started off with a roll of the piano keys and led into Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend”. The crowd loved it, especially when he changed his voice to reach the high notes! He even did the rap portion as he laughed and said, “I don’t even know the words!” He changed songs and went into Lionel Ritchie’s, “I’m Easy”. Luke didn’t stop with the surprises as he transitioned into Adele’s “Someone Like You”. The piano introduction of the next song got the loud screams and people singing as Luke went into Journey’s “Faithfully”, but Luke substituted the word ‘Faithfully’ with ‘Til’ Tomorrow Night… I’ll be Yours Til’ Late Sunday Night.” (He must have attended the CMA Music Fest as a fan before!) He decided to go old-school country next as he put his deep voice to work on Hank Williams Jr.’s, “Country Boy Can Survive”. Luke closed out his piano set with his song, “I Do” as the band kicked back in. Luke said, “Thanks for making that my first Number 1 Nashville!” and he led the fans into another sing-along of the chorus.
He then continued with saying, “Do you want this night to end? I wanna make it last forever! Come on, Get em’ up! Get em’ up! Get em’ up!” Luke and the band led into, “I Don’t Want This Night To End”. To end the night, the audience continued to dance and sing throughout the last song, “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”… at least we thought it would be the last song, but there was some technical difficulties to have the song televised, so Luke mentioned they were going to perform the song again and asked everyone to please stay. The audience didn’t mind at all, because they definitely didn’t want this night to end.
I will admit that I was extremely surprised with Luke Bryan’s stage presence and his ability to turn his set into the best party I have ever seen during the CMA Music Festival. Tom Thompson, Brian Hasbrook, and I all agreed Luke Bryan was the best of the evening with no one else coming close. My next favorites in order were, Eric Church, Little Big Town, Faith Hill, and Hunter Hayes. We all three had more fun than we expected to have on this night. As we walked across the pedestrian bridge to get back to the downtown area, the thousands walking were singing and clapping to the tune of Garth Brook’s “Friends In Low Places”. Now Garth would make an excellent surprise guest! You must listen to our podcast to hear portions of everyone’s set, along with the fans on the pedestrian bridge singing.
Written by Mike Arnold
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Tags: blog, Brian Hasbrook, CMA Music Fest Review, CMA Music Festival 2012, concert blast, concertblast, Eric Church, Faith Hill, Hunter Hayes, Kenny Rogers, Little Big Town, LP Field, Luke Bryan, Mike Arnold, podcast, reviews, Tom Thompson