In Luke Bryan’s world, most of life’s worry and strife is shrinking in the rearview mirror of his pick-up truck as he speeds toward the next sunset.
Life is to be celebrated with beer and love; sentiments rewarded by country radio with 27 No. 1 hits over his career. That’s exactly what Bryan brought to the Mane Stage at Stagecoach on Friday night, playing a non-stop run of hits with every intention of getting the party started.
The Stagecoach party had been going strong for close to ten hours by the time he took to the stage, stoked by a series of often raucous sets by other artists on the festival’s lengthy bill, including standout performances by The Last Bandoleros, Breland, Elle King, Melissa Etheridge and Jon Pardi (who’s set was capped by a surprise invitation to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry).
The festival so far had represented multicultural, joyful, bluesy, rock-edged and heartfelt facets of country, while Bryan’s set contained a good dose of joy, heart and rock, albeit with a smoother finish.
The son of a Georgian peanut farmer turned country mega-star has an authentic twang in his voice and a formidable band that employs banjo as much as electric guitar, but he’s more showman in the tradition of Jimmy Buffet (complete with more than ‘One Margarita’ in his show) than Merle Haggard.
While he may have been dressed down in jeans and a black T, his several recent residencies at Las Vegas’s Resorts World have only burnished his sheen. For the Stagecoach crowd, this was just fine; at the end of a hot and full day of music, they were more than happy to dance, sing and assert their agreement with the call to party.
Bryan, who previously headlined Stagecoach in 2014, 2016 and 2019, is nearly a festival institution. “I’ve been playing Stagecoach for 15 years,” he said midway through the set, before playing his first number one hit ‘Do I’.
Bryan opened the night with ‘I Don’t Want This Night to End’ under flashing red and white lights, moving smoothly from hit to hit, swivelling and swaggering across the stage. He toasted Riley Green and Jon Pardi, who both preceded him on the Mane Stage, with his margarita, launching into his song dedicated to the drink before adding his own electric guitar licks to ‘Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day’ as his band mates delivered fierce solos.
While Bryan did balance the rowdy tunes with sincere reminders (‘Most People Are Good’, ‘Buy Dirt’, ‘Drink a Beer’), he couldn’t help but return to the drinking and boot-knocking, keeping the crowd singing, swaying and cheering along till night's end.
Luke Bryan - Setlist
Take from his set at Stagecoach Festival, Indio Valley, California - Friday, April 28, 2023:
For more from Stagecoach Festival 2023, see below: