Despite the rain the past few days, summer has arrived early in the form of Thomas Rhett’s Very Hot Summer Tour with opening act Dustin Lynch. The “it boy” of country’s headliner tour kicked off Friday night at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, and both singer-songwriters warmed things up quickly inside after concertgoers waited in security lines outside in the rain.
Resistol fan and small-town Tennessee boy Lynch, undeniably handsome and fit in tight-fitting T-shirts and jeans (he donned a Venice Beach T-shirt for a pre-concert meet-and-greet and Pink Floyd T-shirt during his 45-minute set), got the capacity crowd – unusual and impressive for an opener – going at 7 p.m. with his catchy hit “Seein’ Red.”
“It’s good to be back in Spokane tonight,” Lynch said early on, and he made constant use of the catwalk, as would Rhett later, that extended the length of the arena floor. Lynch, a charmer with pearly whites, confirmed last month at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas that he is seeing someone, but it didn’t stop him from mentioning “country girls” throughout his set.
“Thank you for a warm welcome back,” Lynch told the crowd – he noted a memorable stop here in 2012 – before starting a storytelling segment that included honoring his inspirations and talking about buying his first truck in high school and moving to Nashville at age 18.
“I fell in love with country music when I was 4 or 5 – I loved George Strait and Garth Brooks,” he said before launching into snippets of “Starving” by DJ Zedd and Hailee Steinfeld; Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee”; Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That”; Dierks Bentley’s “What Was I Thinkin’ ”; Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You”; and Dan + Shay’s “Tequila.”
Lynch, who dedicated “Cowboys and Angels” to his grandparents and their 64th anniversary, is on the cusp of being able to headline his own tour. Having interviewed him twice before and meeting him for the second time Friday night, it’s nice to see him achieving more success each year. Fun fact: There was incense burning onstage before Lynch hit the stage.
Headliner Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett Atkins emerged from below the stage at 8:20 p.m. in a backward red ball cap, white T-shirt, camouflage jacket and tight jeans, and sang the up-tempo “Look What God Gave Her.” The award-winning singer-songwriter, husband and father of two girls also was sporting a scruffy beard, a departure for the usually clean-shaven, or more manscaped, Georgia native.
“Spokane, how are you feeling tonight?” Rhett asked, eliciting a thunderous response from the audience still energized from Lynch’s set. “The Pacific Northwest is my favorite part of the country. My wife and I live in Nashville, but we always say that if we were to move, we would want to move to Washington state.”
Rhett mentioned a tour stop in 2013 or 2014 here opening for Jason Aldean as a favorite memory before singing “Remember You Young,” a new single released about three weeks ago. He slowed down the tempo with performances of “That Old Truck,” “Star of the Show” and his take of “Round Here,” a song he penned for Florida Georgia Line, at the end of the catwalk.
Other highlights included Rhett, who has a soulful voice that especially complements his ballads, mashing up “Make Me Wanna” with Justin Timberlake’s “Suit + Tie”; a high-energy “Vacation” that made full use of the talented backup and stage musicians – there was even group choreography with Rhett; and a fun use of a hype man who introduced each band member.
The entourage deservedly received a long standing ovation after “Vacation,” to which Rhett replied, “You get the award for loudest crowd of the year.” Then he quipped, “I hate to perform the saddest song I’ve ever written after the funnest song I’ve ever written,” before crooning the indeed sad “Marry Me.”
Lynch and Rhett’s Very Hot Summer Tour concert was three hours, including a break between sets to reconfigure the stage. The dynamic duo, who took off their caps and cowboy hats, respectively, to thank their fans during their sets, hosted meet-and-greets pre-concert for fans.
The Very Hot Summer Tour’s next stop is the Tacoma Dome tonight and includes two dates at Amphitheater at the Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama, over Memorial Day Weekend.
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