It was boots and cowboy hats galore inside the BOK Center Thursday evening as the reigning King of Country Music, George Strait returned to Tulsa, touring in support of his new album “Here For A Good Time.” The 59 year-old Strait, a veteran performer of more than 30 years, churned out classics and a few new tunes in a nearly two-hour set in front of a nearly sell-out crowd in the round. The center stage set up allowed Strait to make his way around the stage and play for fans in every nook and cranny of the 19,000-plus seat facility.
Kansas native Martina McBride warmed up the audience with a fantastic hour-long set that featured her hits “This One’s For The Girls,” and “Independence Day,” among several others. McBride wowed the crowd with her spot-on vocals throughout her set.
Martina McBride slideshow
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
After a brief intermission, Strait and his Ace In The Hole Band took the stage and jumped into their set with “Here for a Good Time,” and “I Gotta Get to You.” Strait then took the opportunity to greet the audience. “It’s great to be back, thank you for coming to the show tonight, we appreciate it very much,” he said before continuing with “I Saw God Today.”
Strait made his way around the stage throughout the night, shifting back and forth between four microphone stands stationed at the corners of the stage. Nine band members and two backup singers were nearby in the center of the stage as Strait, clad in a black cowboy hat, button up plaid shit, blue jeans and boots, belted out a total of 28 songs on the night. Cameras placed at the corners of the stage sent close up images of Strait to four massive video boards perched high above the stage so fans would not miss a minute of their favorite singer as he explored the stage.
Lighting effects were minimal, as were theatrics. Strait simply stood at the microphone, strumming his guitar and singing his songs. Make no mistake about it, this show was all about the music, and Strait’s fans ate it up.
Strait followed “I Saw God Today” with “Check Yes or No,” before images of rodeo riders splashed across the screens during “I Can Still Make Cheyenne.” The crowd erupted at the end of the song when a Cheyenne Frontier Days sign displayed the simple message “Tonight: George Strait.”
Continuing on, Strait performed classics “Wrapped,” “Ocean Front Property,” and “Run,” before including new songs “Arkansas Dave” (written by Strait’s son Bubba), “Drinkin’ Man,” and “A Showman’s Life.” The latter two songs, from Strait’s latest album, were a perfect fit for the well-traveled veteran performer.
Strait continued making his rounds across the stage, finally taking a short break after “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” to introduce the band. The crowd made the band feel at home with a nice standing ovation, before they continued on through the set.
“Same Kind Of Crazy,” “Where Have I Been All My Life,” “Living For The Night,” and “Twang,” led into another round of classic George Strait hits. Strait asked “How ‘bout ‘em boys?” after finishing up “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls,” before flashing his trademark grin that drew loud screams from the women in attendance during “The Chair.” “Give It Away,” “Blue Clear Sky,” and “The Breath You Take” followed before Strait again briefly addressed the audience.
George Strait slideshow
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
“I started doing this one in my honky tonk days, and it’s my favorite song that I’ve recorded,” said Strait as the crowd rose to their feet and sang along with “Amarillo By Morning.” The always humble Strait then performed “I’ll Always Remember You” as a tribute to his fans, following that up with “Troubadour.” There were surely several misty eyes in the crowd during those two songs before he concluded with “Unwound.”
“Thank you Tulsa,” said Strait as he and the band made their way off of the stage, shaking hands with fans on the floor on his way back behind the curtain. A nearly three-minute long standing ovation ensued, prompting Strait to return for a very entertaining encore.
Almost as soon as his feet touched the stage, Strait jumped into “All My Ex’s Live In Texas,” as the crowd again sang along with each word. Changing it up a bit, Strait did his best Johnny Cash impression, and not a bad one I might add, as he rolled through “Folsom Prison Blues.” The night then came to an end as Strait performed “The Cowboy Rides Away,” which has become his trademark for closing shows.
He may be nearing 60, but Strait has not lost his step and is still a fantastic entertainer. Fans who were lucky enough to be at the BOK Center Thursday night definitely got more than their money’s worth.