No one loves Morgan Wallen more than his hometown and that was proven true on Saturday evening (Oct. 30) when he took the stage at the inaugural Country Thunder Bristol in East Tennessee, just miles from where Wallen was raised.
The country singer was all smiles as the sold-out crowd warmly welcomed him to the Bristol Motor Speedway stage, opening the nearly two-hour show with a massive sing-a-long to his piano-driven single, “Sand In My Boots.”
“What’s up Bristol, Looks like we’re going to have an alright time tonight,” Wallen said with a smile.
Following the Top 20 and climbing hit, the Sneedville, Tenn. native exploded into his high-energy, 24-song set with a fiery performance of “Somethin’ Country.”
Despite the rain and temperatures in the low 40s, it was evident that the weather wasn’t going to dampen the excitement of the 30,000+ fans who scored a ticket to the singer’s homecoming concert.
His rowdy set included performances of radio hits such as “Whiskey Glasses,” “Chasin’ You,” “The Way I Talk,” and “Up Down” as well as songs from his record-breaking sophomore effort, Dangerous: The Double Album. The project returned to the Billboard 200 this week at No. 2, marking the first time the album has seen the Top 5 since the week of August 28.
Wallen played nearly a dozen tracks from his CMA Album Of The Year nominated double album, Dangerous, including “865,” “Somebody’s Problem,” “This Bar,” “Warning,” “Silverado For Sale,” “7 Summers,” and more.
“Thank you guys for being here. Thank you for showing up early and in the rain and in the bad weather, it means a lot to me,” Wallen said as he held back tears. “It means a lot to my boys that were opening up for me. I love those boys and I appreciate you showing up for them, that means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to them, so thank you for that. It feels good to be back in my home area. I’m trying to take it all in, and it just means a lot to me. I got to quit talkin’ or I’m [going to] cry.”
The hitmaker even surprised fans with the live debut of “Rednecks, Red Letters, Red Dirt,” “Neon Eyes,” and “Good Day For Flower Shops.”
“I’m having a great time, I hope you guys are having as much fun as me man. This is awesome! We’re going to sing another song we ain’t ever played before, so I’m going to need y’all to help me out alright,” Wallen told the crowd before giving the live debut of “Neon Eyes.”
The reigning CMA New Artist of the Year went on to share the story of how he and ERNEST became friends after competing against each other while playing baseball in high school. His “best friend in the world” then joined him for their much-anticipated duet, “Good Day For Flower Shops.”
“This song that we are about to play is a song that ERNEST wrote with a couple of his buddies and he sent it to me and I immediately fell in love with it, and he asked me if I would sing on the second verse with him,” Wallen explained. ”So, I’m going to let him sing, and I’m going to sing the second verse with him. I don’t know if we’ve ever done this. This is the first time we’re singing this together live.”
Not only was the show a special one due to its proximity to Wallen’s hometown, but also because several members of his family were in attendance watching from side stage.
Wallen, exuding confidence, appeared to be having the time of his life as he gave an electrifying performance that his adoring fans won’t soon forget.
Additional highlights of Wallen’s set included his emotional performance of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” as well as an unforgettable tribute to his East Tennessee roots with a roaring sing-a-long to his debut single, “The Way I Talk.”
Wallen’s performance concluded with a grand finale worthy fireworks display as he sang his chart-topping hit “Whiskey Glasses.”
Granger Smith served as direct support to Wallen, and didn’t disappoint with a slew of fan-favorite songs, including “Backroad Song,” “Merica” and more. He also performed songs from his latest project, Country Things Vol. 1, such as “Country & Ya Know It,” “Hate You Like I Love You,” among others.
Smith shared an special moment with fans as they up their cell phone lights and sang along as he performed a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace.” He also covered Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A.,” prompting the crowd to remove their hats and sing along, paying tribute to the United States of America.
Jon Langston took to the stage with a bottle of Crown Royal and a handful of songs that fans every word to, including “Prob’ly At A Bar,” “Now You Know,” “Right Girl Wrong Time” and more as well as a cover of Toby Keith’s “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue.” Despite some technical difficulties and unfavorable weather conditions, the Georgia native had the crowd singing along and powered through his 40-minute set in a downpour of rain.
Larry Fleet performed tracks from his just-released album, Stack Of Records, as well as an impressive cover of The Band’s “The Weight.” The Tennessee native also joked about the weather during his set, telling fans, “every time I come to Bristol, it rains.”
ERNEST opened the show with a brief but impactful set that had fans singing along to songs such as “American Rust,” “Cheers,” “Sugar” and more. Wallen even supported his longtime friend during his opening set as he watched from side stage.
Wallen will return to the Bristol Motor Speedway in 2022 as Country Thunder announced the hitmaker as the first headliner for the two-night festival that will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2022.
“I’m having so much fun tonight that I just wanted to let you guys know that we’re going to come back and do it again next year,” Wallen told the capacity crowd.
“I hope I get to see you guys again. I think we’re going to do it two days next year, so the first night I’m not sure who’s playing, but I play the second one, so just make sure you come to the second one,” Wallen added with a laugh.
For more information and tickets for Country Thunder Bristol 2022, click here.