Jason Aldean brings his 'Dirt Road Anthem' to Des Moines on the final leg of his tour
Jason Aldean's band took the stage in the dark and began to jam on Thursday night, joined by flashes of white and blue light blazing through Wells Fargo Arena signaling Aldean himself to make his entrance performing "Lights Come On."
"What’s up, Des Moines, Iowa? How are you guys doing tonight?" Aldean called out to more than 10,000 fans after finishing "Amarillo Sky," his third song of the night.
“This is the very last weekend of the Cowboy Tour. This is the grand finale. So, are you guys ready to have a good time?”
Aldean's latest Des Moines appearance was part of his Rock N' Roll Cowboy Tour and included special guests John Morgan and Chase Rice, known for songs such as "Ride."
A Georgia-born country artist, Aldean is famous for songs such as "Night Train," "Rearview Town" and "Blame It On You." His latest album, "Georgia," came out in April and combines with his previous album "Macon." Together, the pair form a double album dubbed "Macon, Georgia."
Aldean has made other relatively recent appearances at Wells Fargo Arena in 2020 and 2018 as part of his We Back Tour and High Noon Neon Tour respectively.
Early on in his stage time on Thursday, Aldean requested applause for his opening acts. He then asked the crowd to give it up for Des Moines' very own Kurt Allison, a guitarist who's been playing with Aldean's band since 1999.
Allison is a 1986 graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School who grew up on the south side of Des Moines and played in his father’s rhythm-and-blues band. He's also a music producer who's worked on songs like “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” by Thompson Square.
"I grew up and saw Van Halen (at Wells Fargo Arena), that was my first concert," Allison told the Des Moines Register in a 2016 interview when asked what it was like coming back to the venue at the time. "To me, that’s the stuff that’s just unattainable. You don’t even think that you’d ever be able to do something like that. When you’re in that place, it’s very surreal."
After the crowd welcomed Allison back home, the guitarist joined Aldean at the front of the stage as the band launched into "Big Green Tractor." As limelight lit the audience, the concert cameras eventually settled on a fan holding up a sign at the front of the pit.
"It's my 18th birthday and 10 years cancer free," it read.
As his song ended, Aldean came to the front of the stage and held up the sign from the fan, reading it for the crowd.
"You never know man, life’s short," he said, expressing gratitude toward the teary-eyed fan before continuing to speak to the audience en masse. "You have fun tonight. You call in tomorrow.”
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Before Aldean's set for the night, Morgan — welcomed by Dee Jay Silver — took the stage.
“We’re grateful to be out here on this tour. This is our last weekend out," Morgan said. “We’re gonna play some songs you’ve probably never heard and I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoy playing them.”
Among those "songs you've probably never heard before" was a piece he introduced as "Sorry Not Sorry," and he also treated the crowd to his latest single "Friends Like That." After half a dozen songs, Morgan's drummer tossed his sticks into the crowd as the group hit its final chord and made way for Rice, who entered performing "Ready Set Roll" under red lights.
Rice followed that up with "Beer Song," fittingly performed with an open can in hand that he used to fill the cups of audience members in the pit. While singing "Eyes On You" Rice also took a selfie with one fan's phone and handed his hat off to another.
“How’re you all feeling Des Moines? I gotta be straight up with you guys. I was in Montana last night and I did not go to bed," Rice shouted to the crowd, briefly recounting partying until the morning. "I slept the entire day away, which means I’ve got some energy tonight. I haven’t been in this building since 2015 with Kenny Chesney.”
Rice's latest album release, simply titled "The Album," came out in 2021. His next album is set to come out in early 2023, he said before launching into his song "Keywest & Colorado."
“This next album for me is probably the most real thing I’ve ever done in my life," he said of the upcoming release. "It’s probably the first time in my life where I’m not chasing something… I’m writing songs that I really, truly want to make.”
Ending his stage time, Rice performed “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen." At the end of the number, he threw another hat into the audience and started signing cups and caps at the front of the stage before making way for Aldean's entrance.
About halfway through Aldean’s set, the singer brought one of his openers back to the stage to perform, heralding him as destined for country music greatness.
“We’ve been working with this guy for a couple of years now,” Aldean said. “He’s one hell of a songwriter, one hell of a singer. So you all make some noise and welcome back to the stage, Mr. John Morgan.”
Together the two of them performed "The Truth," a song written for Aldean by Morgan, as a starscape was projected onto the jump screen behind them.
After Morgan left the stage again, Aldean kept on rolling, playing more of his hits like "You Make It Easy" and "If I Didn't Love You," the latter of which he performed from behind a blue piano with a recording of Carrie Underwood accompanying him on the jumbo screen.
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After "Dirt Road Anthem," the lights dimmed and the audience was left to wonder for a few seconds whether or not an encore was coming. Aldean didn't keep them in suspense long; the singer quickly returned to the stage.
“I think it’s stupid. I’m back there, you’re out here. We’re just wasting time," he said to applause.
So, after knocking back a shot, Aldean and his band closed out the night with a trio of rocking songs — "My Kinda Party," "She's Country" and "Hicktown."
Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Des Moines Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-600-2124, or follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Jason Aldean brings his Rock N' Roll Cowboy Tour to Des Moines