Justin Moore was in good spirits on Wednesday evening (May 2) at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium. His first-ever headlining set at the venue and his first proper tour stop in Music City throughout his career, Moore brought the energy, humor and surprises to his 90-minute concert.
“If only I got that reception from my three daughters and my wife back home, I’d be in good shape,” he joked early on in the show after receiving roaring applause from his fans. “I have been able to walk on this stage countless times over the years to play the Opry, done multiple charitable events, but this is the very first time we’ve been able to bring a concert tour here. We’ve been waiting to do this a long time. Thank you guys for showing up tonight.”
Moore promised fans they’d get their money’s worth and he more than delivered. His set spanned over a decade of hits as well as several guest appearances from Chris Janson, David Lee Murphy and Ricky Skaggs.
The singer kicked off his set with a one-two punch of “Hank It” and “Backwoods,” both tracks from his 2009 debut. He had the audience on their feet and singing along for most of the evening. “I hear you out there, it’s awesome,” Moore noted.
Recent hits “You Look Like You Need a Drink,” “Somebody Else Will” and “Kinda Don’t Care” had fans entranced as much as his earlier material. At one point, the singer slowed down his set to perform a collection of his more traditional songs including “Run Out of Honky Tonks” and “Bed of My Chevy” off his sophomore album, Outlaws Like Me.
“I love traditional country music more than anything,” Moore said, sharing that he’s been working on his fifth studio album. “We are going to give you guys the most traditional country album we’ve ever given you yet. We’re also working on an album this evening because right now we’re recording our very first live album.”
He then introduced the crowd to Janson, who he first met after the singer wrote the title track to his third studio album, Off the Beaten Path.
“His first song, I’m kind of still ticked off at him that he didn’t let me record it because it was a monster song. Do you remember? It was a song about a boat,” Moore hinted before Janson took the stage as the crowd erupted.
The singers then traded verses on an energetic cover of “Country State of Mind” by Hank Williams Jr. before Moore introduced two more special guests. Calling both Murphy and Skaggs heroes of his, he then performed Waylon Jennings’ “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” with Murphy and Skaggs’ “Honey (Open That Door)” with the newest inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“This is a dream come true, it really, truly is. I’m very blessed and I appreciate it,” Moore told the audience, sharing that he grew up in a town of just 300 people and was taught to dream big. “It don’t matter where you’re from, what your situation is, what your past is. You literally can do and be whatever it is you want to do and be. You just gotta put in the work, surround yourself with great people and have a passion for whatever it is that you want to do. You can literally grow up in a town of 300 people and play the Ryman Auditorium.”
Earlier in the night, Moore promised to give his all and he did not go back on his word. Highlights throughout his energetic set included the anthemic “Small Town USA,” the poignant “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” which he dedicated to his grandfathers, and set closer “Point At You.”
The sold-out crowd had the same energy Moore and his band embodied throughout the evening, and he shared his appreciation for their support. A career highlight, while it may have taken Moore 11 years to headline the Ryman Auditorium the moment was not lost on him.
“This is the best audience we’ve had all year. It’s such a special place and you’re proving why that’s the case,” he said. “Thanks so much. I appreciate you guys.”