Its Friday night, its a hot summer evening in Nashville but there is just enough breeze to make it somewhat bearable and for the second night in a row the crowds are beginning to gather in their droves as they cross the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge once again.
Of course the kick off to the evening is not complete without the anthem and none other than miss ‘did i shave my legs for this’ herself, Deanna Carter, was there to get us started. It didn’t take long though after Carter left the stage to bring out Kelsea Ballerini who started her set of with her his Miss Me More.
It feels like Kelsea is still a newbie at this, like she just entered the scene but the success she has had as an artist was clear on that stage as her and her band played hit after hit from ‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ to ‘Half Of My Hometown’ to closing out with her fun single, unfortunately not joing by the legend that is Shania Twain this time, ‘Hole In The Bottle’. Ballerini also took some time to break it down and strip it back when she performed an acoustic version of Half Of My Hometown.
Following this was the first Spotlight Stage performance from Lily Rose who absolutely smashed it. Playing ‘Villian’ and ‘I’d Be You’, it was obvious how she earned her place on that platform. These might be my highlights of each evening, seeing this artists who have been given the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in front of tens of thousands of fans at a festival. The excitement, the gratefulness, the appreciation it just shines through.
Then, there getting set up on stage was Thomas Rhett, an artist sure to get the audience riled up and on their feet and he did his job perfectly. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he rattled off hits such as ‘Slow Down Summer’, ‘Sixteen’, ‘Die A Happy Man’ and closing out his set with ‘What’s Your Country Song’
The great thing about CMA Fest is that there is always something for everyone and this next artist was a great way to spend our time as the main stage got set up, Gabby Barret was lit up by the lights on the Spotlight stage and just as brightly as they shone so did she as her vocals echoed around the stadium. ‘Pick Me Up’ and ‘I Hope’ are songs that truly represent this artist and seeing her there singing her heart out to a crowd I imagine she could have only dreamed about was something special. I look forward to seeing how the next few years plays out for her because I am sure it will not be the last of her!
Over the course of the weekend, there was time also spent with hosts of the CMA tv broadcast, Dierks Bentley and Elle King, so we also had a few surprise performances along the way including this next artist; Cole Swindell. He came out to perform his newest single, an ode to Jo Dee Messina, ‘She Had Me At Heads Carolina’. Followed by a duet with Lainey Wilson on ‘Never Say Never’.
Next out on the mainstage was Carly Pearce, current CMA female vocalist of the year. Just like Cole she was unfortunately only there to sing a couple of songs but little did we all know she had something special for us after her first song ‘What He Didn’t Do’ the band broke into ‘Why Not Me’ by The Judds and in the wake of Naomi’s passing the crowd went wild, a response that was only exacerbated as Wynonna entered the stage and joined Carly in a breathtaking duet.
The final artist of the night was Kane Brown. I will admit at first glance of the line up he felt like a strange headliner choice, why not Thomas Rhett, that is what crossed my mind. However I was quickly proved wrong as Brown came out onto that stage with so much energy and took the stage by storm. With the perfect mix of slow steady country songs and the upbeat party tracks, Kane Brown had the audience on a journey throughout his performance. Even sitting here writing this now, I can still remember the feeling of just being there just being present for live music on such an epic scale ringing through the Nashville air once again.
As Friday drew to a close we all knew it was only a matter of time before we were back here again for Saturday nights show. Keep an eye out on our site for all of our CMA Fest 2022 articles!