The country superstar proved himself worthy of the Lions home with a loose, wild tour send off

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Luke Bryan gave his Kick the Dust Up Tour a lubed up send-off at Ford Field Friday night, partying hard with the sold-out crowd of 43,000 and closing the book on the biggest tour of his career with a guitar-smashing, beer-drenched grand finale.

It was a night to blow off steam for Bryan and his bandmates, who capped the 19-song, two-hour show by trashing their instruments in a celebratory display of recklessness. Bryan shook up cans of beer and sprayed them on his bandmates and on fans packed onto Ford Field’s floor, as a shower of fireworks exploded at either end of the stage during the extended outro to Bryan’s closer, “Country Girl (Shake it For Me).”

The big finish was well earned, as Friday’s concert came at the end of a 50-plus show run for Bryan that launched in May. The 39-year-old country star played a number of stadiums on the trek, the pinnacle of live performance in the U.S., and his transition to mega-venues was seamless. The affable Georgia-raised charmer worked all sides of his massive stage on Friday and made the stadium feel like an arena.

Ending his tours in Detroit, he told the crowd, is his intention going forward. “Y’all ready to make this the end of the tour party every year?” Bryan asked. He didn’t need to ask twice.

Old school purists may not appreciate Bryan’s hip-shaking, hip-hop-embracing take on country music — he wears a fitted baseball cap rather than a cowboy hat — but for a generation raised on both Tupac and Tim McGraw, it feels completely natural.

Bryan’s intro music was Flo Rida’s “G.D.F.R.,” and during the show he performed snippets of songs by Nelly (“Country Grammar”), the Weeknd (“Can’t Feel My Face”), Daft Punk (“Get Lucky”), Jason Derulo (“Talk Dirty”) and Taio Cruz (“Dynamite”). He also took on Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” mixing it up with Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” during a freewheeling mid-show jam session with openers Dustin Lynch and Randy Houser.

The vibe was loose throughout the night and Bryan indulged in his share of on-stage refreshments, doing shots of tequila with his openers and then inviting Dierks Bentley — whose one-hour opening set was delightfully rough around the edges — on stage by calling him “Dustin.” Together, their duet of Bentley’s “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” was like two dudes amusing themselves at last call, but Bryan never let things slip out of hand.

He navigated the show through party songs (“All My Friends Say,” “Crash My Party”), ballads (“Strip It Down,” “Drink a Beer”) and rockers (“Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”), tying them together with his confidence and pure likeability as a performer: Every time he flashes those pearly whites, which is often, you can’t help but like the guy.

Bryan bonded with the crowd as a whole and individually; when one fan threw his dog tags on stage, Bryan picked them up, put them in his pocket, pointed at the audience member who threw them and tapped himself on his heart. Elsewhere he constantly slapped hands with fans, and signed an autograph on the bill of a fan’s hat during “Someone Else Calling You Baby.”

The large stage had two main performance areas, separated by bridges on either end and a catwalk in the middle, with fans filling in the space between them. Bryan utilized several props, sitting on a makeshift dock during “Drink a Beer” and singing atop a Chevy truck — a bold move in Ford Field — during “That’s My Kind of Night.”

And it was his kind of night, a boozy party full of good times and high fives. Don’t be surprised if the show becomes the basis for a Luke Bryan song one day.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

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