The King of Country Music brought a little bit of Texas to Tennessee on Friday night (July 28) for the first of two sold out shows at Nashville's Nissan Stadium.
With opening sets from a pair of modern day country stars – Little Big Town and Chris Stapleton – George Strait sailed through more than 30 songs in the blistering Music City heat, playing a blend of his biggest hits, newer standards and a handful of classic covers for over two hours.
Without wasting much time, Strait was off to a strong and steady start with the timeless 'Write This Down' and 'I Got A Car' before shooting into the sizzling 'The Fireman,' which was rather reflective of the nearly 100º temperatures inside the stadium.
Dedicating his breezy 'How 'Bout Them Cowgirls' to the many cowboy hat-wearing ladies in the audience, Strait had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he combed through some of his 60 No. 1 hits that have stood the test of time, including 'Check Yes Or No,' 'Ocean Front Property,' 'I Can Still Make Cheyenne,''The Chair,' 'Give It Away' and plenty more.
Although Strait's revitalized TikTok hit, 'Carrying Your Love With Me,' was notably absent, the evening's set did feature quite a number of beloved covers from the King and his Ace in the Hole band.
"We’ve always done a few songs by some of the people that we respect so much in this business," Strait noted as he introduced the first of the many cover songs, Waylon Jennings' 'Waymore’s Blues.'
Throughout the night, Strait also tried his expert hand at Merle Haggard's 'Misery and Gin' and 'The Fightin' Side of Me,' as well as Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues.' The crowd was later transported to a Texas dance hall for a moment of western swing sweetness as the band played along to Bob Wills' 'Take Me Back to Tulsa' and Kokomo Arnold's 'Milk Cow Blues.'
However, the night's best cover moment came with Strait's version of Townes van Zandt's 'Pancho & Lefty,' which brought Stapleton back out to the stage. The A-class country stars teamed up for a trio of tunes, including a pair of songs that Stapleton penned for the Texas entertainer – 'You Don't Know What You're Missing' and 'Love's Gonna Make It Alright.'
Closing in on the last leg of his extensive setlist, Strait pulled out all the stops, saving some of the best for last.
Starting with the quintessential 'Amarillo By Morning,' which he admitted was his "favorite song that [he's] ever recorded," Strait delivered his moving and seemingly autobiographical ballad, 'Troubadour,' and hit debut single, 'Unwound,' before briefly leaving the spotlight.
Emerging back onto the stage to roaring applause, Strait's highly anticipated encore felt like an homage to his home state. With the classic 'All My Ex's Live in Texas,' the long evening of music concluded with a one-two punch of 'Take Me to Texas' and his signature send off, 'The Cowboy Rides Away.'
Friday night saw more than 50,000 country music fans simply awestruck by the living country legend, who deftly reminded us why he's one of the best in the business, and why his career has been an enduring one, to say the least.
In a mix of reverence, passion and unbridled joy, Nissan Stadium came together for two hours of shared love for country music and its long-standing King, and it's a night that we won't soon forget.
George Strait - Setlist
Take from his concert at Nissan Stadium on Friday, July 28th 2023:
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