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Wallen's songs work well any place

SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Cal., July 22, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Morgan Wallen's SoCal stadium show was essentially performed at the same pace as his previous date at in L.A. Only this time, his setlist also included songs from his "One Thing at a Time" album, and there were plenty of these. The lineup, with the addition of Bailey Zimmerman as the opener, was the same, too. The audience – bigger this date, too – truly enjoyed themselves.

Tonight Wallen brought the fireworks – literally – as fireworks exploded and flames from each side of the stage shot up at key moments. The bigger the house, the bigger the spectacle. However, Wallen didn't really change the way he performed. He just sang his hits – and it's amazing just how many of the songs performed were also radio songs – and the people sang along. Many of these newer songs are also some of his best, however. He played the gentle, introspective "Thought You Should Know" with just his and a sideman's acoustic guitar accompanying him. He dedicated it to his mother, whom he said was in the house tonight. Other fresher songs included the smart, baseball-informed "'98 Braves," "You Proof" and "Last Night," as one of his encores.

Even some of the songs that come off a tad annoying in their recorded versions, such as the overly '80s rock styled "One Thing at a Time," sounded more natural and enjoyable done live. "Everything I Love," with its thumping groove only sounded better in this live reading. Wallen sang the songs the audience wanted to hear, and everybody most likely left happy and satisfied. He's one of the main reasons mainstream country radio is often sounding so good these days.

HARDY, sometimes dressed in a Lakers jersey, also sang the fan hits. He may have only a few true radio hits, such as "Wait in the Truck," but his fans knew every word to every song – whether played on radio or not. Once again, HARDY was the loudest act on the bill, but nobody seemed to mind. He's a clear fan favorite.

Ernest sang his hit "Flower Shops," but his set hit its peak when he sang "Son of a Sinner," the big hit he helped write for Jelly Roll. It's interesting how HARDY's local performances took on a feel similar to Ernest's for a period. HARDY was the guy that wrote big hits for others, then started to have more songs with his name on them. We can likely expect the same trajectory for Ernest. He's just too good to stay somewhat behind the scenes.

Zimmerman's short set was bookended by two radio songs. He opened with "Religiously," which is currently being played a lot on the radio and closed with "Rock and a Hard Place." He may be the new guy in the Wallen posse, but he more than proved he fit in well.

Like an album where you don't want to skip a song, this four-artist lineup didn't include a dud in the bunch. You darn sure want to be on time! Although it would have been better to see Wallen in a smaller venue, one imagines he has no other choice but to play the biggest houses. He's just too huge for even hockey rinks these days. Strong songs like these, though, will likely work well anywhere, and they worked like a charm on this Ram's house date.

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