Luke Combs has come a long way from his days performing the bar circuit in North Carolina. The “One Number Away” singer moved to Nashville three short years ago and has already amassed two No. 1 singles, an enamored fan base and two sold-out headlining shows at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium. His gratitude for this success was evident throughout his engaging 90-minute concert on Friday evening (Feb. 2).
“I don’t know if you know it, but we’re in the Mother Church of Country Music,” he marveled two songs into his powerful set.
If Combs was nervous, it didn’t show as his fiery performance kicked off with “Out There,” the first song off his 2017 major-label debut This One’s For You. Combs pranced around the entirety of the stage, red Solo cup in hand, as his booming vocals had the audience entranced and on their feet. He held the sold-out crowd in the palm of his hands as they sang each song back to him word for word.
Combs engaged with his audience throughout the evening, talking about the many dreams that have come to fruition since moving to Music City. He detailed his decision to drop out of college 21 credits short of a degree to pursue music full-time and released three EPs on his own before signing with Sony Music Nashville. His two sold-out shows at the Ryman are a testament to his tireless hard work. Meanwhile, energetic songs like “Don’t Tempt Me” and “Beer Can” showcased his arena-ready stature as an artist with sing-along choruses and captivating musical accompaniment.
“Two sold-out nights at the Ryman is what memories are made of,” Combs noted during his stirring performance of “Memories Are Made Of.” Later, on the striking story song “Lonely One,” Combs showcased his ability as a songwriter as his ballads proved to be just as powerful as his up-tempo numbers.
While Combs excelled on his own songs, he also serviced some memorable covers. His soulful vocals were featured well on Ed Sheeran’s sultry throwback “Dive.” Admitting that his dream CMT Crossroads collaboration would be with Sheeran, Combs’ performance of the pop star’s song proved a welcomed surprise. Additional highlights included brief snippets of the Eagles “Take It Easy,” Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” and Alan Jackson’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.”
Combs thanked his parents, who were in attendance, for their unconditional support in his decision to become a singer and dedicated the personal “This One’s For You” to them. A poignant performance that came near the end of his set and had him on stage alone, his whiskey soaked vocals struck a chord. While new songs like the clever “Beer Never Broke My Heart” were peppered throughout Combs’ set, it was fan favorites like his first No. 1, “Hurricane,” and set closer, “Let the Moonshine,” that further exemplified his power as an engaging headliner with a promising future.
Ashley McBryde served a fitting opener who captivated the audience with a 40-minute set that packed a punch and tugged on the heartstrings. While the ode to her hometown “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” impressed, it was the outstanding “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” that left the greatest mark. Inspired by a high school teacher who dashed her dreams of moving to Nashville to become a songwriter, “Girl “Goin’ Nowhere” had McBryde singing of the influence naysayers often have to instead light a fire and chase after one’s dreams. Receiving a standing ovation, McBryde’s set was a testament to her power as both a vocalist and songwriter.