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In what was possibly the most star-packed lineup of the entirety of CMA Music Festival 2014, the Friday, June 6, shows at Nashville’s LP Field reached new highs with stellar sets from a couple of the genre’s most talented female performers, Miranda Lambert and The Band Perry’s Kimberly Perry, and key assists from Carrie Underwood and Lzzy Hale.
Not that the guys were any slouch, mind you. Fans were treated to a rockin’ opening set from Travis Tritt, who was in fine, soulful voice on “Trouble” and “It’s a Great Day to be Alive,” among others.
The following slot went to hard-rocking, aviator-sporting bad boy Eric Church, who mostly stuck with material from his current album, The Outsiders, including the Black Sabbath-y title track, the No. 1 hit “Give Me Back My Hometown,” new single “Cold One” and “That’s Damn Rock & Roll” with the throat-shredding wail of hard rocker Lzzy Hale stealing the show, as it did two nights earlier on the CMT Music Awards.
The Band Perry’s musical output of late seems to be geared for reaching the fans in the nosebleed seats, and the group’s brief set did not disappoint.
“We remember a day when there were more people onstage than out in the crowd,” recalled Kimberly Perry, expressing her gratitude. The feisty frontwoman prowled the stage like she owned it and the band worked like a precision machine on “DONE.,” a decidedly gospelly take on “You Lie” and a cover of the Pitbull/Kesha hit “Timber” (with Neil rapping!) that led into “Chainsaw.” They closed with the smash “If I Die Young,” Kimberly—seemingly overcome with joy—letting the crowd sing the last few lines.
Despite some sound issues that made for a muddy mix on Jason Aldean’s first couple of songs, the superstar turned in a muscular set of his hits such as “My Kind of Party,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” “Take a Little Ride,” “She’s Country” and a full-tilt duet with Travis on “Homesick.”
Miranda seems to have grown more comfortable with her role as country’s leading female, considering she strutted confidently on the stage with a pink Gibson guitar and sporting a sparkling corset on top of leather hot pants and platinum boots.
“Good Lord I can’t breathe in this thing. I’m gonna need a drink after this,” she joked. “But it sure is shiny.”
She delivered a meaty set of tunes including “Fastest Girl in Town,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Little Red Wagon” and “White Liar.” The stage went dark and the video screens showed images of Miranda and Carrie Underwood while Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” played. Sure enough, Carrie came out in a gold outfit to complement Miranda’s and they sang “Somethin’ Bad” to finish with a bang.
Blake Shelton was the evening’s closer, and the droll entertainer stuck mostly to the singalong anthems like “Doin’ What She Likes” and “Sure Be Cool If You Did” but went way back to the start to sing his first No. 1, “Austin,” before getting a few thousand happy people to sing along with “Boys ’Round Here.”
On this particular night, the win went to the girls.