The Number Ones are done.
On Friday night, George Strait began the last round of his current Las Vegas show in which he plays back-to-back evenings of only Number One songs – well, mostly Number Ones. Last night, the King of Country snuck in a few songs that didn’t exactly make their way to the top of the charts.
Strait, still youthful at 65 years old, came out to the raucous crowd at the T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip and immediately went into “Fool Hearted Memory” and “Ocean Front Property.”
In April, Strait performed all of his chart-toppers in chronological order over the span of two nights. This time, he randomly picked 30 songs for each evening.
“Hopefully you’ll find some that you like in there,” he told the audience of about 19,000.
His set, performed, per usual, in the round, ranged from several old classics – “Baby Blue” and “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” – to some of his newer Number One singles, such as “Troubadour” and “River of Love.” Overall, the set list was a potpourri of songs from his indelible four-decade career.
The crowd cheered enthusiastically when the name “Dusty” appeared on the arena’s screens, a nod to the beloved character he played in the 1992 film Pure Country. Strait quickly delved into “I Cross My Heart” and “Heartland,” both of which were featured in the movie, performed by his alter ego Dusty Chandler.
“I want to thank you for making all them songs Number One records,” he said toward the end of the two-hour show. “I got one more and then I’m going to send you all back to the tables.”
Of course, Strait wasn’t done, leaving the stage after “It Just Comes Natural,” but returning for another string of hits.
His first song of the encore was “Amarillo by Morning” – a song that shouldn’t have been on the set list considering the format.
“This was not a Number One record,” a smiling Strait admitted of the rodeo anthem off 1982’s Strait From the Heart, “but it’s a good one.”
With his voice still strong, Strait finished off his show with a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” (which went to Number One for Cash in 1968) and “The Cowboy Rides Away,” the latter of which didn’t reach the top of the charts, but was a fitting and expected end.
Two years after retiring from touring in 2014, the country legend set his sights on Vegas, beginning his “Strait to Vegas” exclusive residency at T-Mobile Arena in April 2016. After a successful run of traditional concerts, Strait switched up the format of the show and began playing two-night-stands of only Number One songs – he’d play 30 one night, and a different 30 the next night.
Strait’s Vegas residency will continue, albeit in a different format, with dates already announced for September and December. He’ll play his final Number Ones concert tonight.
~ Salvador Dali