NOT A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE
When I got to the preshow party I saw several wheelchairs upfront and a few more uniformed personnel milling around. One young man in a T-shirt was declaring he’d just gotten back from Iraq two weeks ago and was inviting all the ladies to sign his chest. I think I’ll show my support some other way.
After enjoying refreshments, everyone was ready for some music. Tim’s band members, The Dancehall Doctors, came out with Lance Miller first, then Catherine Rainey followed by Tim McGraw. Tim sang two songs: “Everywhere” and “Just to See You Smile” for this intimate performance. Tim acknowledged the military and how appreciative he is for their sacrifice and service. When it was over he shook hands with everyone in the front row.
I headed into the Pavilion and took my seat. Halfway to Hazard was already on stage and what an energetic couple of guys they are! Chad Warrix and David Tolliver worked hard to keep the crowd’s interest focused on the stage. David even jumped down from the stage and walked through audience toward the end of their set. They did their job - I was entertained.
Jason Aldean was next and he was well received at Nissan Pavilion opening with his current single, “Relentless” then moving through several of his hits, “Amarillo Sky,” “Why,” “Laughed Until We Cried” and the lively “Johnny Cash.” He said the last time he was in town he got a less than favorable review by the Washington Post. In response Jason proceeded to play Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” He closed with “Hicktown” and had everyone on their feet with a smile on their face.
The much anticipated moment had arrived. Tim McGraw finally strode out onto the stage amid the roar of the crowd. He began with a brand new song called, “Still” and throughout the night he skillfully blended old and new songs to keep the momentum going. A young boy joined him on stage for the final chorus of “Last Dollar (Fly Away)” which was very sweet. He serenaded various women who were fortunate enough to be standing next to the stage while Tim was singing “Suspicions,” “I Like It, I Love It,” and “Real Good Man.” I saw a couple of them afterwards and I do believe they looked as if they might faint! One woman could hardly speak.
For me the most poignant moment of the evening came when Tim returned to the stage for his encore. He stood there and solemnly sang, “If You’re Readin’ This” – a song about a deceased soldier’s final letter home. I was moved to tears and, as I glanced around I noticed I wasn’t the only one. Tears were streaming down many cheeks in the Pavilion that night.
Of course Tim didn’t end the concert there. He closed with some livelier, upbeat songs and said how much he loved his job but quite frankly it’s that one song that remains in my memory. That song, combined with meeting the military earlier in the day and seeing those soldiers in wheelchairs served to remind me of the more important things in life. Thanks for the experience, Tim; it’s one I won’t soon forget.
Published in the Start Exponent 6-20-08 - Not a Dry Eye in the House