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Morgan Wallen Brings Hits and Heart to Headlining Nissan Stadium Show in Nashville

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There are stadium headliners, and then there are stadium-headlining artists capable of drawing in nearly 70,000 fans each evening, over multiple nights.

Just two years ago, Morgan Wallen sold out three concerts at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. On Thursday night (May 2), Wallen brought a cascade of hit songs to Music City’s biggest stage, Nissan Stadium, for the first of three headlining concerts (May 2-4) at the venue as part of his massive One Night at a Time tour—the same stadium where pop queen Taylor Swift held court for three nights last year.


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In the process, this stadium headliner from Sneedville, Tennessee, who has six nominations heading into the Academy of Country Music Awards later this month, offered a premier display of his entertainer of the year-worthy credentials.

Following opening sets from Nate Smith, Lauren Watkins and Bailey Zimmerman, Wallen walked out to the music of “Broadway Girls,” and amid billows of smoke and fire, along with a screen lit up in bold neon red. He opened his show with “Ain’t That Some,” making his way to very front to prowl the edge of the stage, infusing his show with audience-connecting energy from the opening notes.

“It feels good to be home, man,” Wallen greeted the crowd, eliciting cheers. “Me and the boys, we’ve had this one circled on the calendar for a long time,” he said, giving praise to his crew members, before adding, “It’s an honor and privilege to be singing in Nashville, Tennessee tonight.”

He sailed through songs that have sent his albums including Dangerous: The Double Album and One Thing at a Time to the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart for multiple weeks, including “I Wrote the Book,” “One Thing at a Time,” the Allman Brothers “Midnight Rider”-interpolated song “Everything I Love,” “7 Summers” and his 19-week Hot Country Songs chart leader “You Proof.”

He had bleachers set up as a backdrop for his song “’98 Braves,” as he related to the crowd the story of a high school baseball coach who kept him from being kicked off the team.

“There have been so many people in my life that have never given up on me,” Wallen said.

He often ran the length of the catwalk stage with an athlete’s stamina, offering a slate of songs such as “Whiskey Friends,” “Man Made a Bar” (sans collaborator Eric Church), “Wasted on You,” and the singalong “This Bar.”

Often his songs meshed imagery of heartbreak, alcohol-fueled partying and rural living with pop/hip-hop rhythms, coalescing into communal rallying cries that reverberated through the stadium.

Nearly midway through his set, he left he main stage, walking through the throng of fans in the stadium, shaking hands as he made his way to an intimate stage at the back of the venue.

He talked about his journey from playing bars and clubs to his current stadium-filling role, recalling how one of his favorite things about playing intimate venues was being able to look every fan in the eye.

“This is my attempt to recreate some of that,” Wallen said. From there, yearning ballads such the new “Lies, Lies, Lies,” his version of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” or the piano ballad “Sand in My Boots,” brought his acuity as an emotional translator to the fore.

Throughout the show, wristbands worn on fans’ hands glowed in red, blue and orange hues, coordinating with the stage lights.

Extending his One Night at a Time World Tour into 2024, Wallen has already proven his status as a global artist, having previously brought his tour to New Zealand and Australia last year. The past few years of expanding his headliner-status, show by show, as well as stacking a dozen Country Airplay chart-leaders, and eight top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, have fashioned an artist with a keen sense of pacing a show and a comfortable relationship with his audience, even if that means pausing the show for a few seconds to sign posters or take photos with fans crowded against the stage.

His ace band offered crashing percussion and rock guitar-runs aplenty on hits such as “Up Down” (when he welcomed opener Zimmerman back to the stage). Later in the set, Wallen welcomed his buddy, Nashville native and fellow artist-writer ERNEST for their collaboration “Cowgirls,” before giving a shoutout to ERNEST’s new album—appropriately titled Nashville, Tennessee.

Family and friends were common ties throughout his show, as later on, the stage featured a setup that resembled Wallen’s mamaw’s house as he led into “Chasin’ You.” That modest house is also on the cover of Wallen’s One Thing at a Time album.

“Y’all know how much my family means to me…they’ve been with me through this whole weird, crazy ride we’ve been on,” Wallen said, recalling how his mamaw helped raise him, his cousins and sisters. He recalled that she got to see him play one bigger show—a fair in East Tennessee to about 7,000 people.

“Thank you for allowing me and my family to do this, it’s something I feel honored to do,” he told the audience.

Meanwhile, the massive screen wrapped around the entire stage from above, offering a theatre-style view to the audience around the stadium. Prior to the show, those screens highlighted Wallen’s growing business ventures including his upcoming Nashville bar and his Field & Stream venture with Eric Church. Earlier, fans could visit the Field & Stream pop-up booth set up just outside the stadium’s main entrance.

But during his set, Wallen was all about fitting in as much music as possible. He concluded his show with songs including “More Than My Hometown,” and his breakthrough 2019 hit “Whiskey Glasses.”

“Thank you very much Nashville!” he concluded as he left the stage, leaving the fans chanting his name as another round of fire popped into the air.

A few moments later, those fans were rewarded, as their wristbands began glowing anew, drawing a new round of cheers, as Wallen returned to the stage for “Thinkin’ Bout Me,” “Last Night” and brought things full-circle, returning to the beginning with his debut single, 2016’s “The Way I Talk.”

“God bless all of yall,” he said, shouting out each of his opening acts, his band and his crew and ending with a series of thank yous to the crowd, before promising, “See you next time.” But instead of heading for the exit, Wallen took his time making his way around the stage perimeter to sign shirts and posters and shake hands with the fans that have helped build his stadium-sized career.

Jessica Nicholson
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