Another sold-out crowd greeted the performers at the 2012 CMA Music Festival‘s
LP Field as Carrie Underwood, Blake
Shelton, The Band Perry, Jake
Owen, Brantley Gilbert and Ronnie
Milsap all delighted the crowd on a beautiful Friday night (June 8) while the temperature hovered around 70 degrees.
Randy Houser and The Voice‘s Gwen Sebastian also contributed short
sets from an acoustic stage at the Tennessee Titans’ football stadium.
Underwood’s soaring voice highlighted the lineup
and the night — she showed up with all the extra energy she gained at the CMT
Music Awards two nights before — but her supporting cast did more than just warm up the crowd.
Starting off with
a tag team of classic country stars, the Oak Ridge Boys led the
crowd in the national anthem and their signature hit, “Elvira,” before Milsap took the stage just as the sun was going down.
young fans seemed unsure of who the piano-playing singer was, but his songs stood the test of a cellphone-distracted audience
as Milsap had the crowd swaying along to “Stranger in My House” and “Stand by My Woman Man” in no time.
was the hard charging Gilbert and his equally hard-nosed band. He may be the only country artist employing a double kick drum,
an instrument that is mostly used in hard rock and heavy metal. But as he sings in his hit song, “Country
Must Be Country Wide,” the genre is spreading its wings, and fans in the stadium loved the heavier approach.
the arched stage looming like a hillbilly version of Radio City Music Hall, Gilbert threw his hands up and shouted, “Let’s
raise some hell!” before jumping into “My Kinda Party,” the tune he wrote and Jason
Aldean took to No. 1. He backed that up with another Aldean hit, the infectious “Dirt Road Anthem,” and showed his softer
side on “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.”
a quick equipment change, Owen took the stage next and delivered one of the most energetic sets of the night.
across the stage and all but doing backflips, Owen delighted the crowd and showed he’s still a smooth ladies man, even if
he just got married about a month ago.
“Eight Second Ride”
started things off, and though it drew a huge response from fans, there was much more to come. Owen sat at the edge of the
stage and let the crowd sing the signature lines in “Yee Haw,” then brought
the entire stadium to its feet for his latest single, “Alone With
The girls especially loved that tune and went completely wild when the Florida native added an extra line
to the end of the song. After “But you kiss me when you’re drunk,” he crooned, “I won’t be your booty call.” Oh, to be young.
also introduced a new song, a regret-filled tune, “The One That Got Away,” focusing on a brief summer fling which could have
been so much more.
“Don’t Think I Can’t Love You”
found the audience so enthralled with Owen that he actually took his chances with a little crowd surfing, which by country
standards, went extremely well.
Owen was deposited back onstage just in time to close his set with an extended rendition
of “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” Feeling like a career-defining
song, it featured sing-alongs, some impromptu rapping and an entire stadium full of arm-waving fans. It almost appeared as
though not one fan was left sitting as Owen left the stage.
Not to be outdone, The Band Perry took over and showed
off their tight family harmonies as Kimberly Perry stalked around the stage with her brothers at her side. Their set was a
sweet affair, even though much of their subject matter seems to deal with brokenness.
Lie,” “Postcard From Paris” and “If
I Die Young” are all decidedly downers. But sung with smiles and lots of waves to the front few rows, they still seemed
upbeat. “All Your Life” and a cover of Queen’s “Fat Bottom
Girls,” on the other hand, were just for kicks.
Up next was Shelton, who has been busy this week recording tracks for
his upcoming album. Even on a night when he seemed dead tired from working in the studio, the tall singer mustered the energy
for a few toasts and some fine singing.
Going on at about 10:20 p.m., the beach balls came out and the party officially
hit full swing with the opening notes of “All About Tonight.”
He raised his glass once more and delivered a picture-perfect rendition of “God
Gave Me You,” with his backing band deeply in the pocket of a smooth groove.
“There is a crap-load of country fans
out there,” deadpanned the fun-loving Oklahoman.
“Drink on It” was the logical follow-up, and even at lower volumes,
Shelton’s voice came across full and clear.
He only had one request during his time onstage, and it was fulfilled whole-heartedly.
one time,” he said, “I want everyone here to sing every word of one of my songs.”
Wisely, he picked the smash hit “Honey Bee.” Shelton fetched his glass and departed the stage on that
note, with a loving crowd behind him.
The moment the entire stadium seemed to be waiting for arrived as Kimberly Perry
introduced Underwood to a roaring welcome.
Dressed in an American flag tank-top and sparkly short shorts, Underwood
skipped out onstage and jumped straight into her current No. 1 single, “Good
With the crowd bathed in red lights and strobes flashing all over the stage, she seemed extra energetic,
maybe because she won CMT video of the year and collaborative video of the year with Brad
Paisley two days earlier at the CMT Music Awards.
“I came [to the CMA Music Festival] once when I was 14 and got
to do all the things that you’re doing,” Underwood announced to the crowd. “It’s such an honor to take this stage. I just
have one question — are there any all-American girls out there?”
Girl” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel” followed in
quick succession, showing off Underwood’s huge voice and ability to stretch out a high note for what seems like minutes.
also introduced “Blown Away,” the title track of her new album. Its story revolves around a dysfunctional family and the young
girl who secretly wished for a tornado to come carry them away. With a power pop feel to it, the song showed Underwood reaching
out a little further to the mainstream audience and featured a digital tornado swirling behind her band on large video screens.
her set came to an end, she joked about “Last Name” by saying,
“This is what not to do at CMA Fest!”
She offered a few more soaring high notes on “Before
He Cheats,” took one last look at the massive audience and skipped happily off the stage, a job well done.
rang out as the stadium emptied around midnight, the CMA party horde moving on to find one last neon nightcap before getting
up and doing it all over again the next day.
View photos from Friday night’s concert at the CMA Music Festival.