A diverse crowd of almost 15,000 fans filled the beautiful Dickies Arena as they knew the three-time CMA Entertainer of the Year would play as many of hits as he could in a two-hour show. With 35 #1 singles and 60 top 40 songs, he couldnt play them all, but his enormous level of talent left everyone spent after singing along, dancing and even riding an emotional roller coaster at times.
Cory Farley opened the show with a short set of hard country and country rock to get the blood flowing in the audience. Canadian Tenille Townes then came out for a few songs with her high-pitched, unique voice. Good lyrics on her original songs engaged the crowd and covers of past hits such as "When You Say Nothing At All" and "I Love A Rainy Night" let the audience know this was a night made for country music.
The cowboys and rich boys sat side by side, equally trying to impress their dates by doing what they do best, watched a short video introducing the member of the Grand Ole Opry before Jackson gingerly walked out with his laid-back persona. He immediately engaged the crowd as they became emotionally invested in "Gone Country," another indication this night was destined to be nothing but country all night long. The baritone with such a smooth voice threw out T-shirts as he sang along to the video of "I Dont Even Know Your Name," a situation that personified every mans biggest fear.
Jackson talked to the crowd about his career and life before the sing-along "Living On Love." The fiddle solo added so much to the great song and the looks and hugs between couples showed just how meaningful the song really was. "Good Times" got the standing crowd in front of the stage to moving and grooving as he yelled, "Hey Ft. Worth, its Saturday night!"
Cameras came out en masse for the lyric-driven "Blues man" with its pedal steel background. In true superstar fashion, the man who has sold over 75 million records not only let the Strayhorns, his band, shine, but pointed them out to the crowd. Fans cheered the upbeat "Summertime Blues" as the Strayhorns again made a terrific song even better. Everyone in the building began singing along and rocking out to "Whos Cheating Who" as he threw out more T-shirts and thanked everyone for supporting his music.
Stools were placed at the front of the stage for Jackson and two harmony singers as he told a real-life story about "Here In The Real World" being his first #1 hit and how he hasnt worked since then. He kept up with telling the genesis of the song and how "Wanted" was about seeing a John Wayne western in a small hotel in Pine Bluff, AR. Having just celebrated his 40th anniversary and having his wife and daughters in the audience added a special meaning to "Id Love You All Over Again."
The true story of how "Daddy won a radio" and how that actual radio is in the Country Music Hall of Fame led straight into "Chasin That Neon Rainbow." Needing to get his life straight after making mistakes led into "Someday" with the theme of "Whats done is done." Lots of pedal steel accompanied one of his daughters favorite songs as the harmonies and vocals were magnificent for the old classic "Seven Bridges Road."
The fiddler fiddled away while the crew removed the stools and then the multiple Grammy Award winner launched into "Little Bitty" as people danced wherever there was room. The tight Strayhorns Band poured their talent into "Country Boy" which primed the guys as it was a tribute to fathers everywhere who taught their kids to "Drive."
Every phone with a flashlight app came on for "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)."This reverent moment in timed earned a huge hand as the pride of Americans shined through after 9/11. After the cheering stopped, the neo-traditional country singer returned to upbeat music with "Dont Rock The Jukebox." Even though he still had his Georgia accent, the crowd danced like it was a rock song.
A piano solo led into the beautiful "Remember When," a simple but unbelievably touching tune. Many in the crowd had memory drops rolling down their cheeks as Jackson simply stated, "Thats real country music." Following a sad song is always difficult unless you also have the hit "Its 5 Oclock Somewhere." The crowd sprang out of their seats and shook their moneymakers like the first day of summer vacation. They kept dancing for "Chattahoochee" with its scenic video of water skiing in the middle of summer.
Pictures of local sites filled the screen and cheers abounded for "Where I Come From." People in the crowd pointed and said, "Ive been thereand there and there." That finished the set, but Jackson wasnt about to get away without an encore. He sang his usual ending song, the upbeat crowd-pleaser "Mercury Blues" and signed T-shirts, hats, album covers and almost anything in front of him until his manager dragged him away. The crowd would have stayed all night, but they were spent from the great lyrics, the great music and the emotions expended over the previous two hours.
As the crowd filed out, comments about "a great show," hes a true superstar" and other positive statements flowed freely. They knew they had been entertained above and beyond and were happy to have been a part of it.
Thanks to the staff of Dickies Arena as they made this a wonderful night for everyone involved. Special thanks to Paige Scribner for her help in so many areas. Be sure to catch one of the many upcoming shows at this new venue.