CMA Fest 2014 Night 1: Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw Kick Off Festival’s Nightly Shows

Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert, Rascal Flatts and Alabama keep the party going.

Luke Bryan
photo by C. Flanigan/Getty Images

Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw and other top acts helped get CMA Music Festival off to a blistering start at the first night of evening concerts at Nashville’s LP Field, Thursday (June 5). Fans jammed the football stadium, home to the city’s NFL Tennessee Titans, for a six-pack of headliners featuring Luke, Tim, Alabama, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts.

Alabama
photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Alabama got the crowd pumped with a set of classics, including “Dixieland Delight,” “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” and “Mountain Music.”

After a short break, it was time for Luke, who bounced to the stage, exhorting, “What’s up, CMA Fest?” He immediately lit into “That’s My Kind of Night,” which had the crowd on their feet from the introductory notes. Luke followed with “Rain Is a Good Thing,” although, fortunately for all, the rain that was forecasted for the area never materialized.

“Country music fans are the greatest,” Luke shouted out to the audience. “This is your week!” Luke displayed his signature dance moves on “Play It Again” before picking up an acoustic guitar and slowing things down a bit for the poignant “Drink a Beer.” Then, he had the crowd right back to dancing in the aisles, closing with “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and the audience-pleasing “Country Girl (Shake It for Me).”

(From left) Thomas Rhett, Brantley Gilbert and Justin Moore
photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Dierks Bentley
photo by C. Flanigan/Getty Images

Brantley Gilbert kept the Southern-rock sounds flowing with a gritty set that kicked off with the hell-raising “Kick It in the Sticks.” Later, Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett joined Brantley onstage for “Small Town Throwdown.”

Dierks Bentley was next up to the plate, getting the crowd into the proper party mood with “5-1-5-0” and “Am I the Only One.” Miniature beach balls were seen flying about the lower-field seats as well as the stage during the latter number.

Dierks closed the set with his latest hit, “Drunk on a Plane,” and “I Hold On,” slapping hands with fans before exiting the stage.

Rascal Flatts wisely led off their set with one of their faster-paced tunes, “Life Is a Highway,” which had folks singing along on the chorus.

Rascal Flatts
photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Lead single Gary LeVox introduced the group's new single, “Payback,” which the trio proceeded to perform. The Flatts guys also demonstrated their remarkable vocal skills, doing a credible version of the current pop hit “Happy,” a cappella style.

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
photo by C. Flanigan/Getty Images

Tim McGraw commandeered the stage following a powerful musical intro, and launched right into “One of Those Nights” and “Real Good Man.”

The athletic singer, who maintains a rigorous workout schedule, jumped into the crowd for “I Like It, I Love It,” changing one of the lyrics to I ain’t seen the Titans play a game all year, a nice shout-out to the home team.

As excited as the fans were for Tim, they practically became unglued when Tim’s wife, Faith Hill, walked out onto the stage. After a wave of cheers and applause, Faith joined Tim on their new song, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s.” Tim continued with “Truck Yeah,” “Live Like You Were Dying” and others before calling it a night.

But what a night it was! 

Read about the next night of CMA Fest performances at LP Field!

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