After two months on the road, Luke Bryan will wrap his CMT on Tour dates this weekend with shows Thursday (Nov. 17) in Southaven, Miss., Friday in Auburn, Ala., and Saturday in Monroe, La. The tour also features Lee Brice, Josh Thompson and CMT Next Superstar winner Matt Mason.
CMT Insider caught up with Bryan at a recent tour stop in Kearney, Neb., to talk about the energy of the shows, the loyalty of the fans and the nerves he felt about covering a Lady Gaga song.
CMT: When you’re onstage, describe what it feels like and what you’re seeing?
Bryan: What’s amazing is just the youthfulness of the crowd. That’s so exciting for me — any time you’re able to be onstage and you look out there, and it’s just young kids just partying down. … To have everybody standing the whole time, and they’re up and rocking while I’m out there is one of the most gratifying moments for me as an artist. … So we’re enjoying that, obviously, because they’ve driven in and spent their hard-earned money to watch the show. It’s the most humbling and gratifying experience I’ve had in this business so far.
How does it feel to look out and see people singing every word to your songs?
That’s what’s crazy. … So many people in the crowd are singing. There’s a song called “Drunk on You.” I mean, it is one of the biggest songs of the night, and they’re just hearing it via the album. And then my current single, too, “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” it’s been pandemonium, which is so exciting now. Watching my band, it’s almost like what we needed at the end of the year — all this fun — because you just stay out there. … Everybody was getting pretty worn down just from the road, so to see everybody out here excited, it’s like the year’s just begun. And it’s all because of the energy we’re getting off of fans.
Tailgates & Tanlines sold over 145,000 copies in its first week, and you’re getting invited to be on shows like Ellen. It seems like your career is going higher and higher with everything you do. Can you feel the momentum?
It’s just amazing how doors start opening up. Opportunities start opening up. And all we ever really wanted was for those opportunities to start happening and to be able to let people see our show. When you get to be in millions and millions of households like that, it helps our cause so much. People can watch me and determine whether they like me or not, right there. It’s been so amazing to finally get on awards shows and to get performance slots on awards shows and to be able to put your heart and soul into that performance and watch it kind of come back to you.
During your show, there are many different genres and different musical gears you’re switching to …
Curveballs, exactly. Did you make a conscious decision to stretch your boundaries?
If you’ve been to our show for the past couple of years, we end the show with “All My Friends Say” and we play Metallica within that. It was such a huge moment for the end of the show. It was hard to leave it and to get away from doing that Metallica moment because obviously Metallica is Metallica, and it pretty much rocks.
So we knew we were gonna have to end the show with “Country Girl” and then do an encore. It’s almost like the whole band and the whole crew and everybody started working and putting [together] our ideas. And we felt like we wanted to do Poison — “Nothing but a Good Time.”
But what’s funny is all these young crowds. … They don’t really know the Poison thing, so we felt like, just in case you didn’t know the Poison thing, we would throw Lady Gaga in the mix. I love the song “Bad Romance.” We’ve been doing that in the set, too, and the first couple of nights, we were nervous. We didn’t know if we we’d get cabbages and tomatoes thrown at us. But it seems to be working and people enjoy it, and it’s fun.