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George Strait launched his The Cowboy Rides Away Tour in his home state of Texas, packing the house at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock Friday night (Jan. 18). Country Weekly was on hand for the opening night of the 2013 tour, which will play to sold-out crowds all over the country. It's a historic moment, as George has announced that he will no longer tour after 2014.
Martina McBride proved the perfect opening act, getting the crowd in a celebratory mood with her biggest hits, including "Teenage Daughters," "Wild Angels" and her rousing closing number "Independence Day." “I’m the luckiest girl in the world ‘cause I get to tour with George frickin’ Strait,” Martina told the audience.
The loudest ovations were saved for George, who entered the stage dressed in white shirt and jeans and his trademark cowboy hat. He got the set off to an appropriate start with one of his latest hits, "Here for a Good Time." From there, George treated the fans to a mix of classic and current favorites, including "Check Yes or No," "I Saw God Today," "The Chair" and "Give It Away."
A touching moment occurred partway through the show, as George stopped after performing his current single, "Give It All We Got Tonight," to introduce Marine Corps E-3/Lance Cpl. Christopher Allen, who was injured overseas. Christopher was presented with a new home through Homes for Wounded Warriors and was given the ceremonial key to the house by George himself.
During one point in the show, George alluded to his final tour, telling the fans, "I'm happy, but I'm sad, too. It means so much to me that you all came out." George performed for nearly two hours before being called for an encore, closing with, of course, "The Cowboy Rides Away."
Fans lucky enough to have tickets for one of George's 2013 dates won't be disappointed. If you couldn't get them this year, you have another shot. George will bring The Cowboy Rides Away Tour to select cities in 2014 before hanging up his touring boots for good. Markets and venues for the 2014 series have not been announced.