Sunday (June 11) brought the final day of 2017 CMA Fest and saw country fans sporting their Nashville Predators gear throughout Music City for what would also be the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the nightly concert at Nissan Stadium had thousands in attendance to see Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, Brothers Osborne and Tracy Lawrence, during the breaks the audience’s attention went to the hockey game with host Storme Warren frequently filling them in on the score.
Though the Predators’ loss to the Penguins put a slight damper on the evening for hockey fans, Urban came to the rescue to cheer up the crowd with plenty of guitar shredding. He, too, was disappointed in the loss but looked at the season optimistically.
“Before I go any further, I just want to say for anybody who watched the game tonight that we fought the good fight,” he said two songs into his set. “It was crazy. For anybody here from Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas supporting the Penguins, God bless you. You played amazing tonight. Go Preds! I feel incredibly proud of the Predators. To make it this far is astounding. I’m really proud of my home team, the Preds. God bless the Predators!”
His speech was followed by a Predators chant from the crowd and, fittingly, his most recent No. 1 hit “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” He’d segue next into “The Fighter,” explaining that his singing partner, Carrie Underwood, had “something else to do tonight but she wanted to be here.” Likely consoling her husband, Predators Captain Mike Fisher, over the team’s loss, she appeared on screen in a pre-taped video where she sang along to the song while wearing a t-shirt with Urban’s face on it.
The remainder of Urban’s set had the singer running through the crowd, ripping through guitar instrumentals on songs like “Wasted Time” and “Somewhere In My Car.” The funky “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ had Urban starting the song on bass before grabbing his electric guitar to segue into snippets of John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” and Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” A spirited set, the singer distracted Predators fans from their loss, if only for a moment.
Paisley, meanwhile, closed the festival with his memorable guitar interludes and plenty of fan favorites. “Water” appropriately kicked off his set and segued into “River Bank” as Paisley noted that Nissan Stadium was located on the banks of the Cumberland River. He’d play a brief cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” where he showed off his guitar prowess for fans up close near the stage’s edge before launching into current single “Last Time For Everything.”
“If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s never to take those great moments for granted,” Paisley told the audience. “You never know when it’s the last time. But hey, we’re together right now aren’t we, all of us?”
His cover-heavy set included Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Alabama’s “Mountain Music,” fittingly before playing his own “Old Alabama.” He’d close his set with the poignant “Today” and tongue-in-cheek “Mud On the Tires” before an encore of “Alcohol.”
“I cannot thank you guys enough for coming to Nashville to see all of us. I know there’s a lot of other stuff you could have done this weekend and you are here listening to country music,” he conceded. “Thank you for giving us this night.”
While Paisley and Urban had guitar aficionados satisfied, Brothers Osborne also brought the heat to their set with jaw-dropping guitar instrumentals from John Osborne. Their first time performing Nissan Stadium for CMA Fest, the duo’s excitement was contagious from the moment they took the stage. “We’re Brothers Osborne and we came here to party. Let’s do it!” frontman TJ Osborne said at the start of their riff heavy set. TJ’s deep baritone soared on tracks like “Greener Pastures” and “Rum” while his brother, John, provided plenty of memorable guitar interludes throughout their time on stage.
“We’ve been playing CMA Fest for many years and we finally made it to the stadium,” TJ said several songs into their set. Songs like breakthrough hit “Stay A Little Longer” proved just why they were the first choice to fill in for Chris Stapleton after the singer injured his hand and was forced to postpone several tour dates. With more than a minute guitar interlude on the song, Brothers Osborne captivated the stadium. They’d close with their rollicking single “It Ain’t My Fault” which further cemented their deserving presence on the main stage.
Little Big Town and Darius Rucker also took the stage for a hit-heavy set list. Rucker’s performance included previous singles “Radio,” “Alright” and “Homegrown Honey” while LBT’s Karen Fairchild made a surprise appearance during Rucker’s striking “If I Told You,” his latest single poised for No. 1. He’d end with a stadium sing along of “Wagon Wheel” before promising that after his show he will “sit back, get me a beer and be a fan for the rest of the night.”
Little Big Town also had the audience singing along throughout their high energy performance. Set opener “Day Drinking” and “Pontoon” brought the party to Nissan Stadium while the poignant “When Someone Stops Loving You,” “Better Man” and “Girl Crush” showcased the quartet’s striking harmonies.
Lawrence, meanwhile, opened the evening with a hit heavy set including “Time Marches On,” “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” and “Alibis” as well as a new song off his forthcoming duets album. “I hope y’all don’t mind, I’m gonna play some old country up here tonight,” he said to screams. Those in attendance shared their approval by singing along word for word.
CMA Fest 2017 was held Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, June 11, in Nashville.