When he’s old and gray and looking back on his career, Chris Young’s going to remember November 15, 2012. To put it simply, it is a day he’s been dreaming of since he was a little kid, his first ever headlining tour (The Liquid Neon Tour) show and it was held not just any old arena or concert hall but at the Mother Church of Country Music, The Ryman Auditorium, the legendary former church that also was home to the Grand Ole Opry for so many years (and still is every Winter during Christmas season).
Before we cover Chris’ 90 minute set, we’ll briefly talk about the openers, starting with His RCA Records labelmate Joanna Smith. Joanna Smith ran through a nice, short acoustic set showcasing her strong traditionalist voice on tracks like “Ring To Sell,” “Broken Wishes,” current single “We Can’t Be Friends” and “Girls Are Crazy.” It was roughly 15 minutes but she held the crowd which was still coming in.
Valory Music Co’s Thomas Rhett sang all of the songs on the Thomas Rhett EP that is out at digital retailers now, including “Whatcha Got In That Cup,” “Make Me Wanna,” his break-out hit “Beer With Jesus,” the future hit “Front Porch Junkies” and “Something To Do With My Hands.” Thomas Rhett is certainly an artist to watch with an energetic stage presence that recalls Luke Bryan at times (including the dancing). He opened his set with “All American Middle Class White Boy,” a song which got the crowd excited.
For as good as the opening acts were, this was clearly a crowd that was at The Ryman Adutorium to pay witness to Chris Young’s birth as a headlining superstar. With a nicely appointed stage set that included modern LED lighting but didn’t overwhelm you, Chris started off with a brand new song that likely is called “Gonna Find It Tonight.” The song set the mood and after he was done, Chris immediately launched into his first #1 hit, “Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song).” He then performed the agile “Lost” before thanking the audience for attending his show and, in what was the first of many awe-inspiring moments of gratitude, Chris thanked the audience for giving him a career and his first Gold record for “The Man I Want To Be.”
“Save Water Drink Beer” was next and used the LED lights to a nice effect while in between verses introducing his stellar band. He immediately followed up with “When She’s On,” before telling a funny story about Johnny Lee and “Neon” and how Johnny Lee surprisingly kissed him.
Chris talked about giving fans what they wanted on this tour and one thing they wanted was to hear some of his old favorites so he did that by creating a medley of three songs from his first album Chris Young, the album he said did virtually anything, outside of the lead single which “Went to #37 with an anchor.” He played “You’re Gonna Love Me,” “Drinking Me Lonely” and “Center of My World.”
Before ripping into an acoustic set, Chris played his #1 hit “You” to the very enthusiastic fans (They call themselves “Chris Young Country”). In the acoustic set, he introduced his family and said how proud he was to be able to play his hometown (he’s from nearby Murfreesboro) and to do it at the Ryman and for the acoustic set he sang the brand new song “Text Me, Texas.” This tune is melodic and will likely be a hit sometime in 2013 whenever he gets around to releasing the record. After that tune, he rips into a ‘love song about beer,’ ” “Beer or Gasoline,” another tune that appeared on his debut album. Before playing “The Dashbord,” chris told a story of his younger sister being in the audience and how she was a Marine and thanked her and those who are or whoever served in the US Armed forces along with his love and dedication to the Stars and Stripes Program.
“Voices” brought the crowd out of their seats before he played the 18th song of the 90 minute set, a solo piano vocal of Neon album ender “She’s Got This Thing About Her,” the first time he’d ever performed it live, for a crowd, which was clearly reveling in the moment. A light and playful take of ZZ Top’s “Sharped Dressed Man” was next and it found Chris playfully playing a tuning pedal for his guitarist as the guitarist wailed the famous notes of the song. “I Can Take It From There” was introduced as the ‘guy’s song of the night’ while he closed to a glowing standing ovation with “Tomorrow” before returning for a brief encore of “Who’s Gonna Take Me Home” and a jovial cover of “Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This” with Thomas Rhett and Joanna Smith joining Chirs Young for the final song of the night.
The Liquid Neon Tour as showcased in its sold-out debut performance at The Ryman in Nashville, is clearly a winning live show that gives fans more than they could possibly ask for while also having a few surprises such as the new songs sprinkled in along with early album favorites. It was a night for me to remember and as I said at the top, it’s one of those nights that Chris Young will always remember and fans who were there can say, yeah, I was there.
Liquid Neon Tour November 15, 2012 Setlist
1. Gonna Find It Tonight
2. Getting You Home
4. The Man I Want To Be
5. Save Water, Drink Beer
6. When She’s On
8. Medley of You’re Gonna Love Me/Drinkin’ Me Lonely/Center Of My World
10. Text Me, Texas
11. Beer Or Gasoline
12. The Dashboard
14. She’s Got This Thing About Her
15. Sharp Dressed Man
16. I Can Take It From There
18. Who’s Gonna Take Me Home
19. Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This (W/Thomas Rhett & Joanna Smith)
Remaining Liquid Neon Tour Dates can be found at Chris Young’s website.