Like the girl in his ode to a short-lived summer love, country music’s reigning Entertainer of the Year had a crowd of 13,312 Friday evening at Verizon Arena twisting all night long like that old beach “Roller Coaster”: Twisting and swaying and dancing and singing along.
From the time he took the stage a little before 9 until close to 10:30, Luke Bryan, who unabashedly rules the bro-country kingdom, could do no wrong for an audience that pretty much knew every word to every song he sang. The man knows his fans and what they want and he delivered in his signature, energetic style on this stop on his Kill the Lights tour.
Arguably the biggest name in country music right now – the 39-year-old superstar won Entertainer of the Year honors in 2015 from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association – he joked, danced and did a terrific job of interacting with his fans while providing them with an impressive amount of the music that’s made him famous.
Bryan moved easily from the story song “Roller Coaster” with its touch of nostalgia to the poignant, emotional “Drink a Beer,” a tribute to the two siblings he’s lost that was written by Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers.
Along the way, of course, there were all of those mega-hits that have ruled country radio over the past few years, including “Crash My Party,” “Drunk on You,” “That’s My Kind of Night” and “Play It Again.”
On the wet night near the end of a rain-soaked week, Bryan opened with “Rain Is a Good Thing,” a No. 1 from 2010, and later briefly addressed the weather. “We know you had to lock it into four-wheel drive to get here,” he said. Midway through his show, he brought opener Dustin Lynch back out for a fun version of the Brooks & Dunn hit “Play Something Country.” And Bryan asked the audience to partner with him on “Home Alone Tonight,” the duet with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild that topped the charts last year.
He closed out the evening with a two-song encore – “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” and the appropriately titled “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”
Lynch, the lone opening act, performed for almost 50 minutes. His 11-song set was highlighted by the love story about his grandparents, “Cowboys and Angels,” as well as “Mind Reader,” “Name On It” and “Wild in Your Smile.”