LIVE: Morgan Wallen SOLD OUT @ SPAC, 07/07/2022
Country music superstar Morgan Wallen brought his “Dangerous” tour to the stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Thursday night. The show was completely sold out, including the lawn. Over 25,000 fans made their way into the Spa City venue for the biggest concert event of the summer. Wallen has been nothing short of a juggernaut since his arrival in Nashville. He signed with Big Loud Records in 2016. In January of last year, he released his sophomore record, Dangerous: The Double Album, a sprawling thirty-track collection that is all killer and no filler.
When the sun set over the lawn at SPAC the house lights went down and “Broadway Girls,” Wallen’s collaboration with Lil Durk blasted through the speakers. Drummer Mark “Taco” Annino took his place on the drum throne high above the stage. A quick, thundering drum solo set the tone for the rest of the show. In the haze of stage lights and fog, the rest of the band emerged. They jumped right in with one of Wallen’s first hits, “Up Down.” He barely paused between songs, keeping the show moving. The stage production was high-end, with cryo jets, pyrotechnics, and video walls. Ramps ran up each side of the stage, giving the musicians ample room to roam. Halfway into the show, stagehands rolled an upright piano to center stage. All of the high-tech production went away. A lone spotlight shone down on Wallen as he sat at the piano and delivered a showstopping version of his recent hit “Sand In My Boots.”
The band returned to the stage and vamped for several minutes as Wallen and guitarist Dominic Frost made their way to the back of the pavilion. On a small riser, the duo brought the show to the masses on the lawn. A stellar cover of Jason Isbell’s classic “Cover Me Up” had thousands of cell phone lights swaying in the July night. He followed with “Thought You Should Know,” a heartfelt song he wrote for his mother. They closed out their mini-set with a song Wallen co-wrote with singer-songwriter Ernest. The song “Flower Shops” is reminiscent of the George Jones classic “A Good Year For The Roses.”
As Wallen and Frost made their way back to the main stage, opening act Hardy appeared on stage, kicking off a raucous version of Hardy’s “He Went To Jared.” Wallen joined Hardy on stage and they rocked out on the track before shotgunning beers and launching the empties into the crowd. He closed his main set with his first single, 2016’s “The Way I Talk.”
The fans screamed for more and Wallen did not disappoint. He returned for a three-song encore. He tore through “Heartless” before dialing it back for “Wasted on You.” It was no surprise that the last song of the night was one of his biggest hits, “Whiskey Glasses.”
Singer-Songwriter Lainey Wilson opened the night with a high-energy set. She had just flown in from Montana where she has been filming episodes of the smash TV show Yellowstone. If she was tired it didn’t show. Songs like her most recent single “Heart Like a Truck” and “Dirty Looks” are made to sing along. A sweet cover of the 4 Non-Blondes hit “What’s Up” and pleased the folks in attendance greatly. Unfortunately, the majority of the crowd was either still in the parking lot or out on Route 50 for her set. They missed a great one. She closed with her first number-one, “Things A Man Oughta Know.” She won’t be an opening act for long.
Hardy took the direct support slot and came out swinging. His music is a blend of country with a bit of hard rock and metal for good measure. He has had several hits as a performer and many more as a songwriter. He brought Lainey Wilson out to perform the Lauren Alaina part in their song “One Beer.” Hardy played one of the songs that he wrote for Blake Shelton, “God’s Country.” You can tell that this is HIS song, I don’t think I can listen to the Shelton version after hearing Hardy tear into it. He closed his too-short set with the rambunctious “Unapologetically Country As Hell.”
I have been going to SPAC since 1986. I have NEVER seen that many people at a show. It was just a wall of humanity on the lawn. I don’t know if I will see a turnout like this again. The night was a triumph for Wallen, who has overcome a few missteps early in his career. He has owned his mistakes and become better for them. 25,000 fans can’t be wrong…