Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and Eric Church Open ACM Awards

What a way to open the show!

Written by Cillea Houghton
Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and Eric Church Open ACM Awards
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 14: Luke Bryan performs onstage during the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards at the Grand Ole Opry on September 14, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The ACM Awards airs on September 16, 2020 with some live and some prerecorded segments. (Photo by Jason Kempin/ACMA2020/Getty Images for ACM)

Entertainer of the Year nominees Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett got the 2020 ACM Awards off to a roaring star with a medley of their throwback hits.

The ACMs flipped the script this year with how they formatted the show, adjusting to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by broadcasting performances from three of Nashville’s iconic venues sans audience – the Bluebird Café, Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium.

Bryan kicked things off to an energetic start, performing to an empty Grand Ole Opry House. “We gonna get you dancing tonight,” he promised viewers watching from home with a lively snippet of his first No. 1 hit, “Rain in a Good Thing.” He then tossed it over to fellow nominee Church, who had a more subdued approach with an acoustic performance of “Drink in My Hand.” As orange twinkling lights danced behind him like fireflies, Church brought a serene feeling to the Opry before passing the baton to his “fellow Mountaineer” and North Carolina native Combs, who was holding down the fort at the Bluebird Café with a guitar-driven performance of “When it Rains it Pours.”

Meanwhile, Rhett took to the stage at the Ryman with one of his early hits, “It Goes Like This” with a replica of the Ryman’s famous stained glass windows on stage behind him. Underwood the brought the all-star opening to a close at the Opry with her breakthrough hit “Before He Cheats,” filling the empty Opry with her signature powerhouse voice. Viewers will find out later in the night who takes home the top prize as the ACM Awards air on CBS.

The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards, hosted by Keith Urban, are live from Nashville tonight (9/16) on CBS at 8/7c.

Click here to see the winners and follow along with all of our 2020 ACM Awards coverage.