On a very humid Saturday night Ed and I got to Nissan Stadium about 7:15. We were excited for night number 3 given the lineup. Some of our favorites were performing tonight. The Marshall Tucker Band came out to sing the “Star Spangled Banner”.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the first of the performances. This band has been together for 50 years. They had not been to CMAFest since it was Fan Fair back in the 90’s. They still sounded great and the crowd sang along loudly to “Mr. Bojangles” and “Fishin’ In the Dark”.
Chris Young was next up and he came out singing “Aw Naw”. Chris said it meant a lot to be there, that he’s from just down the road in Murfreesboro and he could remember coming there as a kid and waiting in line to have a picture taken with people that he’s now getting to sing with. “Sober Saturday Night” is a duet with Vince Gill but Chris sang it alone and it still sounded just as good. “I’m Comin’ Over”, “Lonely Eyes” and “Gettin’ You Home” were also on his set list before Cassadee Pope joined him for the last song “Think of You”.
Last year had been Cole Swindell’s first performance on the big stage and he was quite emotional. Cole was back this year and I think he was just as emotional. When he came out on stage he was grinning from ear to ear and went right into “Hope You Get Lonely” then to his current single “Middle of a Memory”. He got everyone on their feet dancing with “Let Me See You Girl” and then brought many to tears with the emotional “You Should Be Here”. Cell phones lit the stadium as Cole sang and tears were in his eyes as he sung those four powerful words. He had to just stop and take a minute before he could speak. He said up until that moment right there the highlight for him had been when he did his next song last year and he broke into “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey”. He added a little mashup into the song with Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away”. Cole is always fun to see/hear and there is never a doubt how happy he is to be on stage singing.
Florida Georgia Line was on the schedule next and they were who I was most excited to see. Change over had been taking about 15 minutes and the host for the evening would come out and introduce the next artist. Nobody had introduced FGL but we heard the music for “This Is How We Roll” start up, everyone stands up a bit confused. As Tyler and BK walk out onto the stage already singing, Blair Garner comes out and is introducing them over the top of them singing. It was a huge screw up on Blair Garner’s part. #epicfail
FGL didn’t miss a beat though right into “Anything Goes” and then “Round Here”. They slowed things down a bit with “Dirt” and their new single “H.O.L.Y” but kicked the party back up with “Sun Daze” and finished out the set with, of course, “Cruise”.
So the next performer on the schedule was Steven Tyler. When the schedule was released for Nissan Stadium a few months ago, social media was full of negative comments about having him at a “COUNTRY” festival. Tyler has completed a country album that’s due out July 15th. SiriusXM The Highway had played a single of his “Red, White and You” a few months ago that we actually liked so we sat there awaiting his performance with an open mind.
The first song he did was Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”. The crowd was on their feet and people singing along. By the next song people were sitting, playing on their phones and having conversations. From comments on Facebook groups this was happening all over the stadium. His performance had a weird vibe to it. He would randomly say things that didn’t make any sense. He talked a bit about his country album coming out and did the first single from it “Love Is Your Name”. The album is called “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” and he did the title track. During part of that song it appeared that he snorted something out of his sleeve right on stage or he wiped his nose on his sleeve. He kept messing with his nose and his set got even weirder. Lots of people on social media saw the same thing we did. We have a video but it’s not at a good angle, but we’ve seen other videos that show what we saw, so draw your on conclusion.
Martina McBride, joined him on his next song “Cryin’ “. At one point he leans in to sing in her mic and it was obvious she pushed him away. She never got real close until the end when they hugged and I’m sure she only did that for the cameras. Martina looked and sounded great. Too bad she couldn’t have stayed out and finished the set and sent him backstage. Everyone was tweeting how they felt bad for her having to sing with him. Since, reading the articles about his performance everyone makes it sound like it was the greatest thing that happened during CMAFest and to know how people their reacted and what’s been put on social media that’s the fartherest thing from the truth. It reminded everyone of the horrible Lenny Kravitz incident in 2013. CMA needs to realize this festival is not the place for has been rockers.
Blake Shelton was the finale for the night. His intro song, Billy Squier’s “The Stroke”, got everyone up on their feet, singing and dancing. First song he did was “Ol Red” then his recent hit “Came Here to Forget”. He said, “let me do dumb tv song then we can have some fun.” The crowd roared! Everyone is getting so tired of it being all about the ABC special, apparently even the artists. He did “She’s Got a Way With Words” and at the end he asked “You done filming?”. You gotta love Blake’s bluntness.
Blake’s set included “Honeybee”, “Hillbilly Bone” and then he started singing “Doing It To Country Songs” and was joined on stage by the Oak Ridge Boys. When that song ended he said “We can’t let them leave without a little Elvira”. “Boys ‘Round Here” finished out Blake’s set right at midnight.