Brad Paisley took to the stage Sunday night in downtown Nashville for a show that seemed unimaginable a few months ago.
Thousands of people flocked to Lower Broadway to hear the country singer on guitar as he debuted with “City of Music,” a heart-to-heart tribute to Nashville where Paisley tells listeners to “speak the truth, play some agreements “.
Paisley’s post met center stage spectators on Broadway and 1st Avenue, walking to listeners in lawn chairs at the Walk of Fame Park, fireworks-ready fans leaned over the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and tourists a stone’s throw from Bridgestone Arena.
They got together for some music – and lots of fireworks – as Paisley headlined “Let Freedom Sing! , A free July 4 celebration billed as the city’s first major event since COVID-19 derailed virtually all live entertainment for more than a year. The event attracted a “Let Freedom Sing!” record 350,000 downtown, according to Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
And it was a 90 minute performance where Paisley enlisted a prominent guitar guest and surprise hitmaker to salute what Nashville has endured in the months since many spectators last gathered in person.
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“What an incredible sight to see this street full of people – to see Nashville come back,” Paisley told an audience including the Tennessee government. Bill lee and US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “This city has been hit harder than anywhere. Tornadoes, floods, a pandemic bomb, we have stood up. We are here to celebrate that we are going to get through this better than ever.”
Bonamassa and Ballerini
The evening kicked off with a handful of basic Paisley songs – plus a hint of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and a heart-wrenching “Hot For Teacher” tribute to Eddie Van Halen – before the artist put on his Fender guitar pickin. in the test against Nashville resident bluesman Joe Bonamassa.
Paisley enlisted Bonamassa, playing Les Paul, for a handful of mid-term collaborations that started out swapping lightning-fast solos during the 2011 “Old Alabama” country rock and progressed until the vocalists split verses and swap riffs for a performance of “Stevie Ray Vaughan”. Pride and joy. ”
“This is the first time we’ve played together,” said Paisley. “We’ve never practiced or anything, it’s amazing.… I’m so thrilled to finally be educated by you.”
And, of course, he wouldn’t be the only surprise guest of the evening. Later in the show, Paisley and her five-piece group enlisted Tennessee singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerni to perform her country-pop earworm “Hole In The Bottle” – a fitting toast to the party in progress.
“Are you all ready to go crazy?” Paisley said introducing his duo partner. “Please welcome the incredible future of country music, Kelsea Ballerini.”
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Give away guitars and more
Still, the show gave audiences more to talk about than a whirlwind of guitar riffs and bottle vocals. Paisley gave viewers what arguably missed most when stages went silent last year – the only moments in a concert that collectively bring an artist and an audience together.
He paid tribute to the Nashville artists lost since the pandemic (“When I Get Where I’m Going”); brought in a pair of viral beer-drinking buddies for a drink in his on-stage bar (“No I In Beer”) and gave a subtle nod to his nerdy side with notes from the theme song “Stranger Things “before playing” Last Time for everything. ”
But perhaps no moment is more endearing than when Paisley hopped onto the barricade and handed an autographed guitar to a waving elementary-age girl – dressed in red, white, blue and all smiles – from the front row.
“Learn how to play it, little girl,” said Paisley. “That’s how we make a Taylor Swift there. She’s going to break hearts and write songs, right down to the bank.”
The show ended with Paisley releasing fan favorite “Mud on the Tires” before playing the 2017 song “Today”, where he sings, “I feel like the luckiest man in the world. … today.”
He returned with Bonamassa for a closing encore of the confidence tune “Alcohol”.
“On July 4, 2021, I will never forget where I was,” said Paisley. “I had kept the hope in my mind that this would happen and here we are. I can’t believe it. Thanks for the memory.”
Brad Paisley’s setlist for July 4th
- City of music
- River bank
- Perfect thunderstorm
- The water
- Waiting for a woman
- Last Time For Everything (with Prince’s outro “Purple Rain”)
- Hot For Teacher (tribute to Eddie Van Halen)
- Old Alabama (With the intro “Mountain Music” by Alabama and Joe Bonamassa on guitar)
- Pride and Joy (cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan with Bonamassa)
- I’m still a guy (with Bonamassa)
- It’s country music
- American Saturday night
- She is everything
- When I get where I’m going
- she’ll miss me
- Hole in the Bottle (with Kelsea Ballerini)
- Mud on the tires
- Alcohol (with Bonamassa)