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LA shows Wallen the love Arena, Los Angeles, September 25, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Morgan Wallen was taken aback at overwhelming applause that greeted him when he took a few moments to welcome fans to the second of two Los Angeles concert dates. His crowd was 'teen idol cheering' loud tonight, and this boisterous applause lasted from the beginning to the end of Wallen's extremely well-received concert.

It's difficult to explain this unbridled reception, however. There are better contemporary country singers, and there are artists writing and performing much better songs. Wallen is good, make no mistake about it, but is he this good? His show was well-played and hit-filled, but certainly not one event for the ages. This made it a Sunday night head-scratcher.

Dressed in blue jeans, a white t-shirt and a red cap (not a MAGA hat), Wallen sang a lot, but spoke rarely. He pre-announced "Chasin' You" as an early hit that gave him confidence in his songwriting abilities. He also created a tender moment by sitting at an acoustic piano to sing "Sand in My Boots." This performance caused the sold-out audience to spontaneously fill the arena with waving cellphone lights. He followed with "Cover Me Up," his Jason Isbell cover, which made one wonder just how many in the audience even knew who its original writer is.

Wallen brought out opener ERNEST to sing "Flower Shops," even though ERNEST already sang the very same song during his own set, before also bringing back second billed HARDY, dressed in a Lakers' jersey, to duet on "He Went to Jared."

Much of the Wallen music was nearly as loud as Jason Aldean concert songs, but he got both quiet and spiritual while singing "Don't Think Jesus." Wallen came off as a humble, thankful artist, even though he wasn't especially charismatic or showbiz-y. With that said, though, he may just be the most popular country artist in the world right now.

These fans treated HARDY like a coheadliner, as they obviously knew and loved all his music. Although he only sang 11 songs, every one was top tier. HARDY spoke of how came Nashville to be a songwriter, and his enthusiastic performance could not mask his greatest musical skill: writing. He sang his latest single, "Wait In The Truck" with Lainey Wilson's vocal part piped in and tugged at hearts with "Give Heaven Some Hell." His patriotic "God's Country," a hit for Blake Shelton, and the audience's singing of it, may have made you forget you were still in a blue state.

ERNEST was also received well, as he came out dressed in a Dodgers jersey. Even though he was downtown in the middle of a major metropolis, his "Sucker for Small Towns" still went over well with these city folk.

This show offered proof positive that there's a whole lot of love for Morgan Wallen out there. If he's truly worth it all, though, only time will tell.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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