Courtesy of Schmidt PR
Luke Bryan is country. In some ways he’s almost too country. With lyrics about hunting, partying, working hard, and even about how rain is a good thing, the man is a living, breathing, personification of the southland, and is one of the fastest rising stars in country music. The 2013 ACM Entertainer of the Year has been diligently touring the country over the past few years as an opening act for the likes of Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean, but it became apparent last year that Bryan’s days as a supporting act were coming to a close, and this summer he’s getting his chance to headline. The “Dirt Road Diaries” tour is Bryan’s first chance to close out venues, and he’s taking advantage of it with sellouts across the country, including one on Sunday at the Comcast Center.
Bryan’s meteoric rise really began with the release of his platinum album “Tailgates and Tanlines” in 2011. All four singles from that record reached number one, catapulting Bryan to country super-stardom. He also recently scored a number one hit with his new single “Crash My Party.” It seems like at the present moment, Luke can’t do anything wrong. He certainly didn’t do anything wrong over the course of his long, 17-song headlining set a the Comcast Center. He drew on all three of his studio albums, as well as some of his “Spring Break” EPs. He even brought out some pretty great covers of “Baby Got Back” and Maroon 5′s hit “One More Night.”
Bryan has a larger then life persona on stage. Think of him as a younger Kenny Chesney. His antics over the course of the evening included lying down on stage to snap photos with fans, drinking from a jug of moonshine that he pulled out of a piano, and throwing a full solo cup around 25 rows deep into the crowd, letting whatever he was drinking (pretty sure it was whiskey) shower the crowd. Bryan’s energy was infectious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an enthusiastic crowd in my years of doing this. If they knew the words they were belting them out, and if they didn’t they were dancing their asses off. Even before Bryan took the stage, all 20,000 concertgoers went wild and stood up when “My Kinda Party” played over the speakers.
“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” the first song of the night, was among Bryan’s best and the crowd was going crazy from that point on. After that, he did a masterful job of mixing tender ballads with high octane party tracks. “Country Man,” one of Bryan’s earliest hits, and perhaps his most lyrically “out there” (I can hot wire a tractor and plow up your land) was an early highlight, as was “Muckalee Creek Water” and “If You Ain’t Here to Party.”
Personally, I think that Bryan shines best on his ballads. “Dirt Road Diaries” and “Do I” were two of his best songs of the night. Bryan has a very intense, passionate delivery and you can tell that his lyrics mean a-lot to him; it makes for a very convincing performance.
The end of the main set was very strong with Bryan doing a full version of “The Only Way I Know,” followed up by the mega hit “Drunk On You” (which received the loudest ovation of the show) and a very loud, very fun rendition of “All My Friends Say,” which featured snippets of ACDC’s “Hell’s Bells” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” and tons of smoke.
Definitely the best (and loudest) moment of the show was the last song, “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).” While he had success before its release, “Country Girl” was Luke Bryan’s first massive hit, and with its fast pace, driving beat, it’s the perfect track to close out the night. Bryan (wearing a “B Strong” T-shirt) belted out the song with a lot of intensity. When the guitar solo started, smoke shot up all around the stage, drawing the loudest single cheer all night from the ravenous, sellout crowd.
Luke Bryan might be new to this whole headlining thing, but he sure is a pro when it comes to delivering a great performance. With awesome songs, huge hits, and a stage persona that keeps everyone in sold out venues entertained, it’s obvious that Bryan has entered his prime, and the tours will only get bigger from here. Bryan has taken his place as one of country’s elite performers, and if you asked the sold out Comcast Center crowd, I’m sure that they’d agree.