George Strait Ends the Rodeo’s 90th Anniversary Comeback
Final night for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with a record turnout.
A mix of southern hospitality and hard rock chic.
King of Country
A Robust Set
Here For A Good Time
Four Song Encore
Marking his 31st appearance at RodeoHouston.
According to Merriam-Webster, a troubadour is a lyrical poet from the Middle Ages who composed ballads about chivalrous deeds and the love between courtly gentlemen and their respective heavenly damsels. George Strait is the epitome of a modern-day troubadour and even self-appoints that title in his 2008 album and lead single of the same name.
"I was a young troubadour when I rode in on a song. And I'll be an old troubadour when I'm gone," he croons in his velvety voice.
Strait definitely was a young, handsome singing cowboy when he made his RodeoHouston debut in 1983 inside the Astrodome. But on Sunday night, an almost 70-year-old Strait is certainly approaching old troubadour status, but still can light a room on fire with his regal manner, sparkling smile and hypnotic voice. And all this in front of an audience of 79,452 inside the massive NRG Stadium, which is a larger crowd than even attended the last Super Bowl in this same building.
The evening's entertainment began with Arkansas' own Ashley McBryde, whose voice is a delightful mix of southern hospitality and hard rock chic. Her inspired guitar strumming, quality lyrics and fantastic band scream traditional country, but her fierce attitude and tattoos showcase her love of rock ‘n’ roll. "Put Patsy on vinyl and good Lord I'll lose it 'cuz nothin' takes the edge off when I'm going through it!" she demands while singing Whiskey and Country Music, one of her most recent compositions.
And then King George entered the building. He made the moderately long walk from the backstage dressing room to the $8 million RodeoHouston stage located at the 50-yard-line. Flanked by security staff and a multitude of lucky fans who shelled out thousands of dollars to sit in the floor seats, Strait sauntered like royalty as he moved. Every eye in the stands followed him and every ear was anxious to be blessed by favorites like "Amarillo By Morning," "The Chair," "Check Yes or No" and other hit singles from his lengthy catalog.
His Ace in the Hole Band began the set with "Heartland," an up-tempo anthem that loosened up the crowd before slowing things down with "I Can Still Make Cheyenne." Songs specifically like this exemplify his optimal storytelling ability about the cowboy life full of love and heartbreak.
"I hope you have a couple of hours! We have a lot of songs to play for you tonight!" he declared as the notes of "Here for a Good Time" rolled around the arena. "I first came here in 1983 and I'm still going!"
Dressed in a red-and-white plaid shirt, starched and ironed Wranglers, perfectly shaped cowboy hat and brownish-red boots, Strait is as country as it gets. He took several moments in between songs to walk around the massive stage, waving and smiling to his fans, thanking them for all the love.
The rodeo headliner performed 25 songs, walking off the stage for a short break before the encore. Once it was clear that he was returning, the audience roared with appreciation. He closed out the evening with a tribute to his home state ("All My Exes Live in Texas," "Take Me to Texas''), a Tom Petty cover ("You Wreck Me") and finished with "The Cowboy Rides Away."
Strait took a bow, flashed a toothy grin and saluted his fans. He has most definitely earned his crown as the King of Country Music, one whose reign is still holding strong.