Sunday night was a moment Luke Combs has been waiting for so long, he wrote a song about it.
Early in the pandemic, Combs wrote “Six Feet Apart” which was all about longing for a time when huge concert events could be held again.
The lyrics to that song about COVID-19, which he did not play, include: “It’s a mystery I suppose, just how long this thing goes. But there’ll be crowds and there’ll be shows. And there will be light after dark, someday when we aren’t six feet apart.”
Well, that time was Sunday night and Combs made the most of his moment.
He played a set brimming with easy confidence and the crowd responded. It was a fitting conclusion to Stagecoach 2022, and as he promised, it was clear that he was thankful to be in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans again.
It was a very beer-forward set, as Combs is unapologetic about his love for the amber stuff.
‘Greatest night of my life’:Carrie Underwood rocks Stagecoach with Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses
During his song “1, 2 Many” he shotgunned a can of Miller Lite. Throughout the set he parked his red solo cup on the ingenious red solo cup holder he had attached to his microphone stand. He also featured some sudsy wordplay with his song “Beer Can” as in “Nothing picks me up like a beer can.”
Combs also played the Mane Stage in 2019 as the lead-in act to headliner Sam Hunt, so he was at home in front of the oversized crowd, but a headlining set brings with it a different level of responsibility. He rose to the occasion, not with theatrics or pyrotechnics or a litany of special guests, but a simple comfortable set, giving his fans the steady performance they came to see.
He wore blue jeans, a black shirt and a black baseball cap that said “Merle Haggard: America’s Music. Local crew.”
‘Bucket list moment’:Thomas Rhett set on Stagecoach’s first night included Ashton Kutcher cameo
He mixed smoothly hard-partying light-hearted anthems like “When it Rains it Pours” and “Honky Tonk Highway,” but also got the crowd singing along to emotionally charged songs like “Better Together” and “Beautiful Crazy.”
During the band-introduction portion they played a cover medley including “I Like It, I Love It” by Tim McGraw and “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” by Travis Tritt.
He finished with his hit song “Hurricane” which led to a full-field singalong and he left the stage, but a bass beat signified that he would be coming back for an encore. He played “Forever After All.”
And, of course, to finish off the night, he brought the set full circle with his undeniable “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” a fun song and a popular T-shirt on the grounds.
Last call, Stagecoach 2022. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun, reach him at email@example.com.