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Despite rain, the CMA Fest show must go on (eventually)

LP Field, Nashville, June 11, 2009

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

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It was the show that CMA Music Festival fans had awaited for all day long. But they ended up waiting a little longer than expected. Brooks & Dunn opened with a high-octane nine-song set that included the full sound effects on Hillbilly Deluxe and a surprise appearance from Reba McEntire on Cowgirls Don't Cry.

McEntire followed the duo on stage and performed three songs, including her new, unique-sounding single, Strange, before emcee Storme Warren stopped the show and informed the crowds that they needed to stay under the stadium concourses because severe weather was on its way.

A disappointed crowd shuffled to find shelter, not knowing whether the concert would continue. Nashville has a noise ordinance, prohibiting such large-scale concerts from taking place after 11:30 p.m. or midnight, but the ordinance was lifted so that the show could go on until 2 a.m.

Bravo, for the CMA - who did what was best for the fans. About half of the stadium crowd stayed after as 2 1/2-hour delay to hear abridged versions of sets by Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley; Rascal Flatts was also on the bill, but they had to leave for Tulsa, Okla. because they're playing a show in the Sooner State on Friday.

Rucker played his hits, Don't Think I Don't Think About It, and It Won't Be Like This For Long,but the highlight of his set was surely a rousing rendition of Hank Williams Jr.'s Family Tradition.

Bentley played just three songs with an extended intro for A Lot Of Leavin' Left To Do. He also performed Sideways.

Paisley finished the show, coming out with a smile on his face and cracking jokes left and right about playing into the wee hours of the morning - "Good morning Nashville....you guys are hardcore," he said. He spoke about it being 10 years since his first festival, when it was known as Fan Fair and played a new song with cute lyrics, American Saturday Night, the title track of his next CD, and his current single, the number one song Then. And Paisley added some extended guitar licks at the end of every song in his seven-song set. The highlight, however, was the party anthem, Alcohol, during which Bentley returned on stage to sing with him.