For most people Friday marks the end of the week; time to wind down from a week of hard work and spend time with loved ones, maybe partaking in a few adult beverages, attending a local watering hole, or taking in a movie. This past Friday I celebrated TGIF with a visit to Bell Center for a good old country hoedown, which was a rare but welcome change to the usual shows presented in this city. Let me tell you how I know that Montreal is COUNTRY!
As I made my way to the Bell Center, I wondered what I should expect. I’d never been to a huge show dedicated to country music. It may have been raining that night, however the sun was shining bright in the arena, which was filled with loads of cowboy boots, hats, beer, and beautiful woman, all there to get on the Florida Georgia Line express.
First up was Tennessee native and The Voice contestant (Season 6) Morgan Wallen. He took the stage at 7pm sharp. This was his first time in Montreal. He played a very small set including his debut single “The Way I Talk.” He oozes that country charm, high-fiving the crowd lucky enough to have scored floor tickets. The band backing him up were tight as fuck. To show off their talent, as Morgan left the stage the band took over center stage to rock out for a couple of minutes
Next up was North Carolina’s Chris Lane. As the lights went down, in came the electronic beats. I wondered what I had signed up for! The mic stand lit up and the band kicked in. We were ready for a party and Chris was dressed for success, sporting a Canadian tuxedo. I was impressed from the first note. Here was a humble man playing to the whole room, going up and down the trident stage and high-fiving everyone he could. His singing was spot-on, impressing me with his rendition of “Let Me Love You” and dedicating his hit single “For Her” to all the couples in the venue. He finished off his set with a medley of pop hits including The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” and Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it that Way” amongst others. He finished his set with his number one country single, “Fix.”
When it became Tennessee native Dustin Lynch‘s turn to rock the crowd, the lights went off and we heard AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” then he appeared on top of a pyramid of steps behind the drummer blaring his song “Hell of a Night.” This guy knows how to entertain a crowd! He raised a glass to all those in attendance, and even called out looking for someone that was “double fisting.” From the floor a guy raised his two beers, and Dustin invited him to the front row. We came to find out his name was Zach, and Dustin insist that he chug his beer with the crowd chanting, “CHUG! CHUG!” To the delight of the crowd, Zach was quick to oblige, and Dustin said, “I owe you a beer!” Later on, he did bring him the beer! His set was high octane, playing hits like “Seeing’ Red,” “Where It’s At (Yep, Yep),” and even dabbling with Def Leppard’s “Poor Some Sugar On Me.”
The time had come for tonight’s headliner Florida Georgia Line to rock the Bell Center crowd. Let me tell you, they certainly did rock! Oh my fuck, from the moment they descended from suspended platforms, with flames firing in the background performing “This Is How We Roll,” we knew we were in for a tasty treat! The duo comprised of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley certainly are huge country stars, and it shows by their stage presence, their harmonies, and their scent of Old Camp Whiskey. These guys were on fire!
They prepared a wonderful set with a good mix of hits, upbeat songs, and slow songs. Midway through the set, they switched to a smaller stage at the other end of the rink to the delight of those with tickets at the back. From the smaller stage, they performed “Dirt,” and a medley of songs (including “Dayum,” “Baby,” “Sippin’ On Fire,” “Hell Raisin’ Heat Of The Summer,” “Here’s To The Good Times”). They even called on their wives before playing “H.O.L.Y.” They finally returned to the main stage with Chris Lane, Morgan Wellan, and Dustin Lynch as guests to perform “Sun Daze.” What a treat! It all culminated with an encore where they did a medley of pop, rock and rap songs (including “Ride Wit Me,” “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “Last Resort,” “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “This is How We Do It,” and “Jump Around”), and their massive hit “Cruise.”
What a night! Country is indeed alive in Montreal, and I sure hope we get more shows like this one out here. This genre knows how to party! Till next time, y’all!
Written by Eric Brisson
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson