I was blessed and fortunate enough to get to attend the George Strait concert last night! (1.18.2013) As most people know, he has kicked off his farewell tour, also known as The Cowboy Rides Away tour. Just to make it clear, as George emphasized last night as well, that he is not fully retiring -- he is just going to stop his mega tours. He will still write and produce new music and play at various concerts – whatever sparks his interest.
The concert was bittersweet for me. I have been a George Strait fan for as long as I can remember. From the moment I took interest in music, George was there, playing on the radio or whatever music apparatus we had at the time. When I heard the official announcement of his tour, and that our town was the first stop, I –had- to be there. I’m not usually a concert type of person, but this was HUGE! It really meant a lot to me as well, when he said Lubbock was his first stop because he always has a great time coming to our city. He stated that he loved coming up and playing for us Red Raiders. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed.
We were blessed to even be able to get tickets. The concert sold out at around 30 MINUTES! My brother in law got an early access code, and we bought them the day before. Had it not been for that, we would’ve never stood a chance. They gifted them to us as Christmas presents… What a great Christmas present it turned out to be!
Martina McBride opened up for him. She was nothing short of incredible. I was hoping she would play “Broken Wing” and man, sing it was an understatement. She sung her heart out up on that stage and got a standing ovation for it. It was an emotional rollercoaster – she sang highs and lows, from battling sickness and trying times, to being a mother of teenaged daughters.
King George came out a little after 9PM… the sell out crowd in the United Spirit Arena went crazy as he strolled out from the tunnel and up on the stage. His first song on his set list was “Here for a Good Time” which set the tone for the evening, seeing as we were all there for that very reason. After that song, he thanked the crowd and said he was excited to be back in Lubbock and to see all of us Red Raiders. Of course, with true University pride, we all screamed out our excitement at the mention of our beloved school.
“Ocean Front Property” was next, followed by “Check Yes or No”, “I Saw God Today”, and then “Drinkin’ Man”, which is one of my all time favorite George songs. It is about a man’s struggle with alcoholism and being unable to quit, despite the important things in his life. He sang it with tons of emotion and it gave me chills. “A Showman’s Life” and “Love’s Gonna Make it Alright” were next. He then took a moment to introduce a song written by his son, Bubba, called “Arkansas Dave” and how he would’ve sang it regardless of who wrote it.
After that clump of songs, he brought out a stool, took it to one corner of the stage, and sat down. He announced that he had done a first in Lubbock, TX – he had never sat down at a concert before. He joked around and said he was going to play a slow, subtle tune all alone on his stool, and strummed his guitar for a second. However, the real reason he sat down was because he was going to map out the beginning of his career, and how the 80’s went for him and his band. He sang “Blame it on Mexico”, “Her Goodbye Hit me in The Heart”, “80 Proof Bottle” and “Honky Tonk Crazy.” He ended the 80’s segment by playing “Marina Del Ray” – Breathtaking is about the only word I can use to explain how I felt during this song. So damn good.
He moved to another corner on the stage and announced “that got us out of the 80’s, and along came the movie Pure Country.” The crowd cheered loudly, and George mentioned that someone had asked if another Pure Country movie would be done, and George’s witty reply was “No man, Dusty is dead…” He then quoted the movie and thumped his cheeks, a lot like his character did when he and a band mate were rehearsing on a porch on a ranch in Texas. He then played “The King of Broken Hearts” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, both songs featured in the movie.
After that, he continued strong, performing “The Chair”, “How ‘Bout them Cowgirls”, “Give it Away”, “Livin’ for the Night”, and the classic – “Amarillo By Morning.” Since Amarillo is only 2 hours north of here, the crowd went insane, and the fiddle player got a standing ovation for his solo at the end of the song. George looked genuinely surprised and gracious at the reaction his fans gave him, and the song was amazing!! He pressed on and played his new single “Give it all We got Tonight”, which will be released on an album he’s hoping to finish up in a few weeks.
The concert took an emotional detour when he talked about not really having his tour end so soon, but that he must have had it in the back of his mind because he wrote “I’ll Always Remember You” a few years ago. He sang that, and I doubt there were many dry eyes in the house. “Troubadour” was another emotional song he belted out with all his heart, and then he turned the concert back around by singing “Unwound” to get us excited again. However, he took his guitar off, said thanks to the crowd, and walked off stage, hoping he had fooled us that the night was over. The crowd didn’t disperse, the lights didn’t come on, and everyone continued to stay in their seats and cheer loudly.
Minutes later, The Ace in the Hole Band and George came back out, and as you guessed, the crowd erupted with loud and amazing cheers that he had come back in for an encore. I was thinking, this isn’t over. He didn’t play his signature song toward the end, so I knew we were in for at least a few more songs!
He finished up with “Some Kind of Crazy”, “All My Exes Live in Texas”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and last but not least, the song he always plays at the end “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
I’m so glad I got to go. George and Martina both sound so great live! I’ve heard singers that can’t belt a tune to save their lives unless it is auto tuned. Not the case at all with these two talented performers! It was emotional. At least it’s not a full retirement, but it’s likely his last time in Lubbock. I witnessed history last night and I couldn’t have gone with a better group. My mom, dad, and sister were right there beside me, watching greatness right before our eyes. As the stats say, he’s had a top ten single every year since he has been singing. No other singer has –ever- done that! This is why we call him KING GEORGE.
Safe travels on the rest of your tour, George, and may GOD BLESS YOU! Thanks for being an inspiration in so many people’s lives!