Luke Bryan knows how to make an entrance.
Kicking off his That’s My Kind of Night tour, the entertainer rose from inside the stage on top of a black pickup truck surrounded by a ring of fire to play, appropriately, “That’s My Kind of Night.”
From there he did what he does best — entertain.
The man is as well-known for being charming and shaking his a– as he is for singing, and he gave the crowd exactly what it wanted Thursday night. His gyrating caused men and women alike to scream his name, from the 40-something woman behind me, the teenage girls holding signs professing their love, to the older man in front of me who really got into the performance after spending the beginning pretending he was only there to make his wife happy.
Throughout the performance, Bryan interacted with the crowd, taking selfies with girls in the front row, casually signing autographs mid-song, tossing beers to people in the pit and even pulling a little boy onstage with him to sing “All My Friends Say.”
The best part of seeing Bryan live is he knows exactly what his audience wants, and he delivers. His concerts are more like parties where everyone is having the time of their lives, and while country music thrives with outdoor concerts in the summer, Bryan impressed at the Schottenstein Center Thursday night.
What fans know best about country music is how it makes them feel, and even in January in Ohio, the music takes the listener back — be it to the first time they heard a song while riding shotgun in their friend’s truck, to summer night bonfires with friends back home or to some of the hardest memories they have. Country music is real, and its relatability amplifies the experience of seeing an artist, like Bryan, live.
Musicians inherently have the problem of balancing old material and new when they go on tour, but Bryan masterfully segued between at least six years of music, with nearly every number being a crowd pleaser. He nailed older releases “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” “Drunk on You” and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” while giving the audience a taste of the new with “Play it Again,” which he announced will be his next single from his “Crash My Party” album.
The only flaw in Bryan’s performance was a terrible cover of Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” where he fumbled over the rap a bit, but I still give him props for trying. It just proved that country music is where Bryan’s soul lives.
Another cover did work for him though, as he masterfully wove Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” into his own “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” completing the perfect outro before coming back onto the stage for an encore. And he did it while wearing an Ohio State shirt. The audience collectively swooned.
His encore led with “The Only Way I Know,” which is originally a collaboration with Eric Church and Jason Aldean, but it was fantastic all the same with Bryan singing it solo. He closed the show with “Country Girl (Shake it for Me),” and the audience did just that.
Because when the most charming man in country music tells you to shake it, you do.
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