Cody Johnson had just tried to turn Pinnacle Bank Arena into Austin’s legendary Broken Spoke, urging the Friday night crowd to do-so-do at ‘Dance Her Home’ when he ended his busy show .
“The last time we played in this city we sold 4,000 tickets,” he said. “There are more than 10,000 people in this room. Turn on the lights. I want to see all these people.
Clearly touched by the turnout, Johnson referenced previous Nebraska shows later in the set, telling a story about playing here right after Nashville record execs, who loved his songs, told him. rejected as an artist because he wouldn’t take off that cowboy hat. .”
This sent the determined purveyor of real country music down an independent path, playing traditional country in honky tonks and bars across the country.
“I want you to understand what the 10,000 tickets mean to me,” Johnson said. “That’s over a decade of selling my own merchandise. … Every stream, every shirt, everything you’ve bought and done has helped real country music come alive.
People also read…
Then came “On My Way To You”, his first hit single – dedicated to the crowd.
As he has done on every show I’ve seen him play here, Johnson delivered 100 minutes of real, rowdy high-energy country…and it just keeps getting better and more entertaining.
From the opening of “Honkytonk Hardwood Floor”, the whole could not have been arranged more efficiently, for example, the love ballad “Nothin’ On You” was followed by the twang and stomp of “Son of a Ramblin’ Man”.
Then came the cut of the autobiographical title of the documentary about the failed bull rider who became a county star, “Dear Rodeo”, the crowd singing the part of Reba McEntire, the hoedown “Let’s Build A Fire” and the biggest surprise of the night.
“We played this song last night,” Johnson said. “It was kind of a random deal. What the heck. We’re gonna play you a Dixie Chicks song”
This song was “Traveling Soldier”. Johnson and his real country band of five (with fiddle and steel) pulled it off.
Johnson saved his career hit “Til You Can’t” until the end of the series. He didn’t need to – the crowd was so bonded to him from the jump that he could have done it first and still blown the roof off the place.
Johnson could very well win a few CMA awards in a few months – which would be well deserved.
But perhaps the best measure of his talent and success was the 10,000 people in the arena, singing almost every song. And I predict he’ll sell the place the next time he’s in Lincoln.