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Review: Loose Ford Field show wraps Luke Bryan tour

The Detroit News

Luke Bryan wrapped his Kill the Lights tour Saturday night at Ford Field with a loose, spirited evening where the good vibes flowed as freely as the liquor on stage.

Tequila shots were tossed back and Miller Lites were cracked open as Bryan and his band celebrated the end of the 74-date tour, which kicked off back in February.

The 24-song, 125-minute show featured a freewheeling section where Bryan seemed to be making things up as he went along, as he brought out openers Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch and performed covers of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinkin’ Out Loud” (mixed with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark” and the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” which included stops at Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/ Nae Nae)” and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.”

Why not, right? Bryan is perfectly comfortable rocking stadium crowds, and Saturday marked his second consecutive year where he finished his tour at Ford Field. And as the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year – his reign ends next week – he has earned the right to improv on stage.

Elsewhere, he barreled through a barrage of hits from his baseball cap country playbook, odes to drinking beers (“Drink a Beer”), partying (“Crash My Party”) and hanging out and doing country things (“Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”). He sold it all with a shimmy and a smile, as the 40-year-old singer plays the role of the friendly neighborhood superstar. And he plays it well.

Yet if there was a sense of triumph at last year’s show, Bryan’s Ford Field debut, Saturday’s concert felt like a repeat of that evening. It’s the difference between winning a title and defending it, and while his performance wasn’t lacking in confidence, there wasn’t much to differentiate it from last year’s outing.

Bryan’s model is Kenny Chesney, who has made Ford Field an annual stop on his never-ending summer party tour. (Chesney’s model is Jimmy Buffett.) There were empty seats scattered throughout the top of the upper deck, and if Bryan is planning on playing the Lions’ home every year, he has to find a way to make sure things stay fresh.

He avoided new material, skipping songs from last month’s “Farm Tour… Here’s to the Farmer” EP, and sticking to his arsenal of favorites. That’s what made the end of the show so much fun; it felt like Bryan was going off script and was ready to play all night, and it made the songs that followed – closers “That’s My Kind of Night,” “I Don’t Want this Night to End” and “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” – pop that much more.

Little Big Town also mixed things up during the group’s opening performance, tossing a cover of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” in the mix alongside favorites such as “Girl Crush,” which Bryan also playfully included in his set.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama