Review: One last show for George Strait at Wells Fargo Arena

Review: One last show for George Strait at Wells Fargo Arena

After more than 30 years in the music industry, George Strait is still at the top of his game. Despite that, the “King of Country” has decided to walk away from  music, or at least the heavy touring schedule he’s kept up for years. Nearly 17,000 fans showed up to see Strait head off down the trail when his “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour stopped at Wells Fargo Arena Friday night.

“You know we had to come back here,” Strait told the crowd after being greeted with a deafening roar. “I hope you don’t have anywhere to go anytime soon, because we have a lot of songs to do tonight.”

And he did. Strait has been playing more than 30 songs a night on this tour, which is still only half of the singer’s 60 No. 1 hits. It’s hard to come up with other musicians who have dominated the way Strait has in his genre. There’s The Beatles and Elvis. Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali in sports. Country has Strait.

Strait jumped around his career, pairing songs like “Ocean Front Property” with “Marina del Rey” and crooners like “When Did You Stop Loving Me” with “Here for a Good Time.” It was an all killer, no filler night.

The stage sat in the middle of Wells Fargo Arena, with Strait walking around the outer edge, playing to different corners of the arena while 11 musicians played in the center. It was an interesting set up, and the huge screens facing in every direction assured that no matter where Strait was facing, he was still singing to you.

Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn kicked off the show, but Dunn went above and beyond typical opening act material. The set consisted of 16 songs and included an encore. Dunn was free and easy, telling the crowd somewhat rambling stories between songs about things like the two horses he had purchased in Iowa for his daughters and having June Carter Cash as a landlady.

Dunn relied heavily on Brooks & Dunn material, playing favorites like “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria” and “Johnny Cash Junkie (Buck Owens Freak)” along with solo songs “How Far to Waco” and “Grown Damn Man.” He even slipped in Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me.” It was basically a headliner’s set, minus some of the flash and spectacle

Dunn later returned to the stage to perform two songs with Strait, “Arkansas Dave” and “Amarillo By Morning.”

In total, Strait performed 32 songs, including a five song encore that included a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” also made it into the final batch, before Strait closed the night – fittingly – with “The Cowboy Rides Away.”

It was an epic night of music and it will be sad for someone with Strait’s star power to step aside with no ready heir apparent. But when you’re the king, you can make a call like that.

It’s good to be king. And it was good to see him perform one more time.

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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