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The Showman

Like a Bono who champions Texas cowgirls, charismatic Luke Bryan surprises RodeoHouston fans

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Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
The quickest comparison that I could come up with for Luke Bryan's stage persona was U2's Bono — but a Bono that champions Texas cowgirls rather than human rights. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
The songs that were listed told nothing about the surprises within his songs later in the set. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
Bryan surprised the audience with a rendition of Taio Cruz's "Dynomite," Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Jason Aldean's "Only Way I Know." Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
Though Bryan closed out the official RodeoHouston festivities, his show served as a primer for Sunday's concert-only Grand Finale. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
Luke Bryan, RodeoHouston
Reid Schroder_column mug

Towards the middle of Luke Bryan's performance on Saturday night, the man threw a guitar pick towards the sold-out crowd, but it landed a good thirty yards away from his fans and into the dirt.

His arm must have been having an off-night, because the amount of energy the Georgia native had on stage should have easily propelled that pick into at least the action seats.

The quickest comparison that I could come up with for Bryan's stage persona at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo would be that of U2's Bono — but a Bono that champions Texas cowgirls rather than human rights.

Every time the stage rotated my direction, I saw Bryan jumping and waving his arms around, begging an audience of 75,242 adoring cowgirls and cowboys to stay on their feet and sing along.

And that's exactly what they did.

 The quickest comparison that I could come up with for Bryan's stage persona was U2's Bono — but a Bono that champions Texas cowgirls rather than human rights. 

So much, in fact, that I could hear individual voices make their way into the sound board mix during some of Bryan's most popular hits, such as "All My Friends" and "Drunk on You." The only time Bryan's momentum even hinted at slowing down was during a performance of his first No. 1 hit, "Do I," but by then, his energy had transferred into the stands, creating quite a loud reception to a comparatively subdued ballad.

The warm reception was not lost on this charismatic performer.

When Bryan wasn't singing or strutting around stage, he was thanking the Houston audience for helping him sell out Reliant Stadium, which, according to him, was the biggest show of his career. He certainly played like it was.

On paper, Bryan faithfully followed his set list, playing what he set out to play. However, the songs that were listed told nothing about the surprises within his songs later in the set.

It takes a confident country artist to weave Taio Cruz's "Dynomite," complete with auto-tune, into one of his biggest hits, yet Bryan somehow pulled it off. Must have been the forgiving spring break crowd.

Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was played as well, but I think I was the only one in the room that wasn't excited about it, having seen a much more interesting version played by Zac Brown Band at RodeoHouston last week.

I did appreciate Bryan's take on the Jason Aldean song, "Only Way I Know." Also a repeat song performance — Aldean himself played the song last Monday — Bryan's charisma and versatile band almost convinced me that I had never heard the song before.

There was really no way for Bryan to end such an animated set in anything but a walk along the dirt, slapping lucky hands in the action seats as Bryan sang "Country Girls." Before climbing into the black Ford that takes performers out of the stadium, Bryan couldn't resist climbing the Mutton Bustin' gates and waving one last time to the loudest crowd of the season.

Though Bryan closed out the official Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo festivities, his show served as a primer for Sunday's concert-only Grand Finale.

By the way, who is playing Sunday's show again?

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