Review: CMA Fest Nissan Stadium, Nashville: Saturday, June 8

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Nashville’s CMA Fest is an annual celebration that draws country music fans from all corners of the world to the heart of Music City. Held every June, this four-day extravaganza showcases the genre’s biggest stars alongside emerging artists, offering an unforgettable experience with live performances, exclusive fan interactions and unique events. From the bustling streets of downtown Nashville to historic sites like the Ryman Auditorium and state-of-the-art Nissan Stadium, the festival transforms the city into a vibrant, music-filled playground, attracting tens of thousands of enthusiastic attendees.

Originating in 1972 as a Fan Fair, CMA Fest has grown exponentially, becoming a cornerstone of the country music calendar and an essential part of Nashville’s cultural identity. The festival not only features more than 300 acts performing on multiple stages, but also offers fans unparalleled access to their favorite artists through meet-and-greets, signings and intimate acoustic sets. In addition to the music, the event also supports a good cause, with proceeds benefiting the CMA Foundation’s commitment to music education. The CMA Fest embraces the spirit of country music, combining tradition and innovation in a city known for its deep musical roots.

Saturday June 8 Nissan Stadium Review

Terri Clark

Fresh off the release of her new duets album ‘Take Two’, which reinvents some of her classic songs with contemporary artists, Terri Clark kicked off Saturday night in style at Nissan Stadium. The years have been kind to Clark, who looks and sounds as good as he did in the heyday of the 1990s. She rattled through a string of hits like “Better Things To Do” and “Girls Lie To” in some style and with a big grin on her face. It was the perfect ticking start to the evening ahead. Interestingly enough, Clark would make another appearance during Lainey Wilson’s set, with Wilson devoting part of her song to their recent duet on “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.”

The war and the treaty

Michael and Tanya Trotter are pure forces of nature and, when in full musical flow, a feast for the eyes both seen and heard. Slowly but surely conquering the hearts and minds of country music, this husband and wife duo plays a beautiful blend of country, soul, blues and R&B. Tanya is like a young Aretha Franklin in the tone and range of her singing. Songs like ‘Yesterday’s Burn’, which was a real ‘meet-cute’ moment for the couple on stage as they flirted with each other during this lilting country love song, and the very dramatic ‘Steal A Kiss’ were perfect, so big like an arena. nuggets of joyful and intense entertainment.

The new song ‘Called You By Your Name’ ended in a beautiful extended jam session that gave the players in the band a chance to shine, but Michael and Tanya were the stars of the show, drawing rapturous applause from the Nissan Stadium for their genre blurring, passionate music. It was great to see a mainstream country audience so engaged with music that doesn’t come from the writing rooms on Music Row, which gives me hope that The War and Treaty might have the bright future they deserve.

Old rule

From newcomers to seasoned entertainers, Old Dominion has been proving for years what a great addition they are to festival bills like this. As the reigning ‘6 straight’ group of the year, it’s quite easy to become complacent about Old Dominion due to their consistency and quality. They came out and attacked Nissan Stadium with some verve tonight, meaning that while this was always going to be Jelly Roll’s night, Old Dominion put him a close second in terms of the night’s set.

Opening with ‘I Was On a Boat That Day’ was a brilliant move and immediately got the crowd dancing. Lead singer Matt Ramsey said, “We only have a short time, but we’re going to make the most of it,” which really set the tone for the rest of their set. “Snapback” and “Hotel Key” did exactly what they were meant to do on this balmy Saturday night in Nashville, providing the soundtrack for some serious arena dancing and drinking, while “One Man Band” became a huge sing-along before closing “Memory Lane” finished the set with Ramsey criss-crossing the stage, pumping his fists through the air and Brad Tursi attacking his guitar like his life depended on it.

Ramsey was full of smiles and seemed genuinely happy and present as the band powered along in their quest to get the crowd rocking. A perfectly placed, expertly delivered set full of slick modern country and heartfelt and catchy melodies.

Laine Wilson

The reigning CMA and ACM ‘Entertainer of the Year’ and most in-demand contributor was an obvious choice for Saturday night at Nissan Stadium. After a raucous introduction from Ashley McBryde and Jelly Roll, Wilson came out to perform new single ‘Hang Tight Honey’ with a steely look of determination in her eyes. She walked across the stage with passion, commanding every inch of the space that was so recently Old Dominion, playing songs like “Country’s Cool Again” and “Heart Like a Truck.”

During the introduction of “Watermelon Moonshine,” Wilson explained that she had been coming to CMAFest since she was 14 and had probably sat in every corner of the stadium. You could tell how much this particular achievement and award meant to her. Passionate, powerful renditions of songs like ‘Wildflowers and Wild Horses’ to close the set went down a storm and if there were an award for the artist who had the most fans in T-shirts at Nissan Stadium, it would be Lainey wins hands down. This was a slick, powerful set, delivered with expert precision by the most in-demand artist in country music today.

Keith Urban

While a generation of artists like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Jason Aldean are being ‘pushed aside’ at events like this in favor of younger, hipper guys, Keith Urban proved once again that his appeal is timeless. There’s something joyful and uplifting about being in the audience at a Keith Urban show; his own enthusiasm is so infectious and it is fascinating to see him play the guitar with such freedom and ease. The choice to open his set with three newer songs in “Straight Line,” “Messed Up” and the unreleased duet with Lainey Wilson, “Closing Time,” was a bold move. Wilson appeared with Urban for “Closing Time,” a breezy and just as catchy as your standard Urban tune, which translates as huge!!!

The second half of Urban’s set was more aimed at the old fans, so we got ‘Blue Ain’t Your Colour’, which gave the crowd a chance to sing along to ‘Better Life’, which just never seems to work out. getting older or showing signs of fatigue and then ‘Long Hot Summer’, which was simply sensational. This set closer saw Urban throwing himself into the crowd and even moving to the side levels at one point, chuckling to himself at what he seemed to have done as security around him struggled to keep the situation under control! Urban got the chance to show off his effortless guitar skills, as you’d expect, and he left the stage with a smile that was certainly mirrored by the crowd.

Jelly roll

The name that has been on everyone’s lips for about 18 months now, Jelly Roll has captured hearts and minds around the world for his honest and humble entry into the world of country music. His momentum shows no sign of stopping at this point, so it was no surprise to see him close out Saturday night at Nissan Stadium. This was always going to be a powerful and emotional moment in Jelly Roll’s career and it proved to be so. Opening with ‘The Lost’ he took to the stage like a man possessed. After the song, he explained his roots and upbringing in Nashville, saying it had been 23 years since his first trip to Nissan Stadium after the NFL team, The Titans, came to town.

Keith Urban appeared as guest guitarist on ‘Halfway to Hell’, where they embraced like brothers at the end of the song, while Jelly Roll then segued into an emotional speech about his time behind bars in a facility just steps from the stadium itself . At that moment, tears were shed as Jelly Roll shared his story of redemption and invited everyone to join him on the same path. This led to a powerful rendition of ‘Son of Sinner’, with the crowd taking over in one style or another in places.

An entertaining montage of Rap, R&B followed that got the stadium moving as they sang along to snippets from artists Eminem and Outkast before Jelly Roll performed a portion of his song “Wild Ones,” which he released with Jessie Murph last year. This was an inspiring choice and although the tone and style strayed from country music, I couldn’t see anyone around me in the stadium complaining in the slightest.

Jelly Roll closed out this poignant and powerful homecoming set with a new three-song single: “I’m Not OK,” “Need a Favor” and “Save Me,” which saw Lainey Wilson return for her second single. guest performance of the evening! The latter watched as Jelly Roll struggled to contain his emotions as both Wilson and the crowd, who lit up the Nissan Stadium with their mobile phones, tugged at the big man’s heartstrings!

This was a redeeming moment for this former criminal and there wasn’t a single person in the Nissan Stadium last night who didn’t support this lovable villain. The story of Jelly Roll is a universal story of second chances and resilience. That’s why I think he identifies with so many people inside and outside of country music. It was a true privilege to see him experience this hometown moment and an honor to share. something that clearly meant so much to this powerful entertainer. It was Jelly Roll night and he grabbed it with both hands, holding on for dear life even as tears streamed down his face.