Luke Bryan and friends bring party to Foxboro

A review of Luke Bryan with Dierks Bentley at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2014

, Staff

Continuing to tour in support of his 2013’s Crash My Party, country star Luke Bryan hosted a “Sunday Funday” party of his own at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Sunday night. With a little help from his friends – Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell – the Georgia native served up a satisfying show for the capacity crowd on hand.

At this stage in his career, Bryan’s status as a stadium headliner is surprising. After a shocking upset to win ACM Entertainer of the Year in 2013, the 38-year old has seen his popularity soar even higher. While a string of three consecutive #1 singles certainly helps, for Bryan it may be more about the status as People Magazine‘s “Country’s Sexiest Man”. And while his catalogue may not call for the home of the Patriots, Bryan played to his strengths and openly used the aid of his supporting acts to cover the 90-minute headlining set with ease.

Kicking off the show with “That’s My Kind Of Night”, Bryan made a grand entrance atop a pick-up truck that rose from beneath a massive center catwalk that stretched far into the field. The energetic frontman would spend most of the night on the intricate system of catwalks that cut across the field, working the crowd with each move. Clad in his customary skin-tight jeans, he had his predominantly female fan base screaming with each of his well-documented booty shaking maneuvers.

Bryan kept the energy high as he continued on with the corny (pun-intended) “Rain Is A Good Thing” and the more lusty “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”. What followed was a well-balanced set, that included material from each of his four studio albums with a heavier focus on his more recent efforts. Bryan delivered all his top ten singles, sparking great sing-alongs with fan favorites “Someone Else Calling You Baby” and “Crash My Party”.

Rather than visit many album tracks, Bryan was wise to recognize the crowd would be more entertained if he collaborated with his openers. The first visit came from Brice as the two tackled the Brice-penned Eli Young Band hit “Crazy Girl”, while Swindell joined later in the set for “This Is How We Roll”, the hit they penned for Florida Georgia Line. Reminiscing about playing state fairs together early in their careers, he asked Bentley to deliver one of his earliest songs in “How Am I Doin'”. Surprisingly, however, none of the openers joined Bryan for “The Only Way I Know”. Instead, he decided to take on the rocker himself with original collaborators Jason Aldean and Eric Church via video. While Bryan struggled on the harder edged track, he proved to be at his best when he slowed things down and showcased his vocals.

Taking a seat at the piano by himself, he delivered “Shut It Down” off Crash My Party. The rare intimate moment led to a passionate take on his first #1, “Do I”. The show’s best moment came as Bryan sat down with his guitar on the edge of catwalk set-up like a pier to deliver the heartfelt “Drink a Beer”.

After bringing the main set to a close with “I Don’t Want This Night to End” (in which he tagged a few lines of Taio Cruz’s “I Don’t Want This Night to End”, Bryan returned for a two-song encore of hits “Play It Again” and “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”, complete with plenty of booty shaking to send the ladies home happy.

Overall, Bryan was reminiscent of young Tim McGraw. The catalogue may not be as substantive as some of his peers playing the big stadiums, but the energy and solid vocals certainly were.

Bentley’s set was another reminder that the Arizona native must be the most underrated “star” in Nashville. He kicked off his thrilling 13-song opening set with “5-1-5-0” and charged on with “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)”. Fueling the crowd’s festive feeling, he delivered party anthems “Am I the Only One” (during which he shotgunned a beer with one lucky fan) and “Tip It on Back”.

Just as he did in Newport earlier this summer, Bentley followed up “Up On The Ridge” with a cover of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” and again, the result was somewhat mixed. Midway through his set, he took time to profess his love for New England. Bentley recalled playing many shows in the area, as well as a visit to Boston earlier this year when his wife ran the Boston Marathon. He further endeared himself to the crowd by declaring how its great to be a city where you can talk country music and hockey and people understand both.

It wasn’t till later in his set that Bentley took time to showcase material from his new album Riser by delivering singles “Drunk on a Plane” and “I Hold On” back-to-back. He kept the show rocking with “What Was I Thinkin'” and “Sideways” before bringing the set to an end with a sing-along of “Home”, leaving the crowd wanting more.

For those not partying in the parking lot (not many), Brice and Swindell got the party started in the stadium with opening sets featuring their own respective hits.

Setlist
1.  That’s My Kind Of Night
2.  Rain Is a Good Thing
3.  Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
4.  All My Friends Say
5.  Roller Coaster
6.  Country Man
7.  Someone Else Calling You Baby
8.  Crazy Girl (Eli Young Band cover with Lee Brice)
9.  Shut It Down
10. Do I
11. This Is How We Roll (Florida Georgia Line cover with Cole Swindell)
12. The Only Way I Know (Jason Aldean cover)
13. Suntan City
14. How Am I Doin’ (Dierks Bentley cover with Dierks Bentley)
15. Crash My Party
16. Drink a Beer
17. Drunk on You
18. I Don’t Want This Night to End
   Encore
19. Play It Again
20. Country Girl (Shake It for Me)

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