Three mega shows invaded Denver for a triple shot of music. Billy Joel was the first night. The piano man performed enough hits for his dedicated fans to fill Coors Field. The third night was The Rolling Stones at Bronco Stadium at Mile High. The musical icons drew an even more immense crowd while they played their songs that define classic rock. The middle night had Zac Brown Band representing multiple genres of popular music with video screens, animation, and even a wheel of James.
Zac Brown came out with bigger muscles and more tattoos than he had last time his band played Coors Field in 2017 (read about that show by clicking here). Starting out the night with Homegrown set the mood when Brown sang, “I got some good friends that live down the street/Got a good lookin’ woman with her arms ’round me/Live in a small town where it feels like home/I’ve got everything I need, and nothin’ that I don’t.” The sold out crowd cheered on the band and raised their $15 beers and $17 margaritas.
Cover songs were a big part of the night’s setlist. Fiddle player Jimmy De Martini did an amazing version of The Charlie Daniels Band’s The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The band transformed it into an extended jam. The song selection got more elaborate when the roadies wheeled out the Wheel of James. It was a pinwheel with numerous James Taylor songs attached. It landed on one of Taylor’s 1965’s Something in the Way She Moves. A teleprompter assisted Brown with the lyrics (there might be too many Taylor songs on that wheel to memorize). De Martini surprised me the most when he took over vocals and rapped Beastie Boy’s Sabotage. Guitarist Clay Cook got the enthusiastic crowd clapping before he launched into The White Stripes Seven Nation Army. Proving they could play almost anything, the band performed Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher and Rage Against the Machine’s Bulls on Parade.
Leaving Love Behind from the soon to be released album Owl was performed in the most positive way someone could sing about a divorce (Brown announced he was divorcing his wife late last year). He sang, “I believe. Yes I do/That everything we lose will be a gift in time/But the hardest part is leaving love behind.” Animation of a burning flying horse was in the background for Colder Weather – “She said you’re a ramblin’ man/You ain’t ever gonna change/You gotta gypsy soul to blame/And you were born for leavin’.” The Eagles Take It to the Limit was transposed in the middle of the song.
In contrast to the sad tunes, happier originals such as the Jimmy Buffet influenced Toes and hearty food inspired Chicken Fried got the crowd fired up and back in the party move. There was a strict curfew that eliminated an encore, but didn’t leave out the joy the band brought back to the ballpark.
The second billed band was the most surprising part of the night. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real won over the crowd with heartfelt melodies and a lively stage show. The band recently contributing to the soundtrack of the remake of A Star is Born movie (they even played Bradley Cooper’s supporting band). Performing together since 2008, the band entertained the Coors Field crowd with a Jimi Hendrix cover of Hey Baby (New Rising Sun). Nelson played the solo with his teeth. He sounded like his father Willie Nelson (Yes. That Willie) during Civilized Hell and Blame It on Georgia. The opening act Caroline Jones came out to duet with Nelson on Find Yourself (Lady Gaga sang on the recording). They had choreographed dance moves that caused the entire ballpark to smile. When the song was about to end someone in the crowd said, “Those two would make some pretty babies.”
See you at the next show. I’ll be one wondering if the fiddle player can rap.