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Live Review: Live Review: Morgan Wallen @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

26 March 2023 | 11:25 pm | Mallory Arbour

While waiting for Morgan Wallen’s set to start, the crowd partook in a roulette of shoeys.

(Image: Supplied)

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Morgan Wallen capped off the Australian leg of his One Night At A Time tour with dual shows at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, respectively.

The concerts at the iconic Melbourne venue – which can hold over 14,000 people – was the icing on the top of the cake in his run of sold out shows across the country. Supported by Bailey Zimmerman, Ernest and HARDY, the sheer number of attendees alone demonstrates that the future of country music is bright and thriving not only in regional settings but in large cities too.  

Hot newcomer, Zimmerman kicked off the show. The crowd enthusiastically sung along to Never Comin’ Home, Small Town Crazy, Religiously and more. His performance of his hit track, Rock and a Hard Place closed his brief but energic set. The song peaked at #7 on the Countrytown Hot 50 Airplay Chart, and his latest single Fall In Love currently sits at #37 after peaking at #23.

Next up was Ernest. Admitting songwriting is more his thing, he still managed a great set including songs like Anything But Sober, Tennessee Queen, This Fire, Flower Shops and a cover of Jelly Roll’s Son Of A Sinner, which the pair wrote with David Ray Stevens. He also moved around the stage, interacted with the crowd and had fans singing along.

HARDY then exploded onto the stage. He wowed the crowd with songs like Sold Out, Jack, Boots, Truck Bed, Give Heaven Some Hell, Rednecker, God’s Country and The mockingbird & The Crow. He also sang his hit duet, Wait In The Truck with Lainey Wilson’s vocals over loudspeaker, and he performed a cover of Blake Shelton’s God’s Country, which he co-wrote with Devin Dawson and Jordan Schmidt. He also sang One Beer, his hit single featuring Dawson and Lauren Alaina.

While waiting for Wallen’s set to start, the crowd partook in a roulette of shoeys. Performed by one to the next, encouraged by a ruckus of applause, numerous fans partook in the Aussie tradition.

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When Wallen came on stage, the noise of excitement filled the stadium. He then delighted audiences to a 25-song set including You Proof, One Thing At A Time, Sand In My Boots, This Bar, More Than My Hometown and more. He also performed a cover of Jason Isbell’s Cover Me Up as well as a medley of Dangerous, 7 Summers, Silverado for Sale and Still Goin’ Down.

The screens behind him lit up with various designs, including a montage of childhood family photos and illuminated lyrics. There were also fire cannons during the rockier songs and fans lit up their photos during the slower ballads. At times, Wallen had his guitar or was seated at a grand piano.

Dressed in an olive green long sleeved fitted t-shirt, blue jeans with brown belt and backwards orange cap on Friday, Wallen danced around the stage and interacted with fans in the mosh section. He did the same the following night except in a navy blue long-sleeved knit and white cap.

Both HARDY and Ernest also joined Wallen on stage for special duets. HARDY joined Wallen on the heavy He Went To Jared, while Ernest and Wallen performed the ballad Flower Shops. When they finished, the duo handed out two large boutiques of red roses to lucky members of the crowd. They both also attempted an Aussie accent which had the crowd in stitches.

Wallen also announced his latest album, One Thing At A Time, had hit the top of the ARIA Albums charts, receiving a huge roar from the crowd. The 36-track release features collaborations with Eric Church (Man Made A Bar), HARDY (In the Bible), ERNEST (Cowgirls) and his sister, Ashlyne (Outlook).

The Friday crowd was loud but respectful unlike night two when Wallen was hit by a splash of beer onstage while performing Everything I Love. While he did not pause the song, after it was over, he ordered the perpetrator and his friends be removed from the venue. Addressing the perpetrators, he said, “One of y'all own up to it, or I'm gonna throw your whole fucking group out.”

The concert was marginally let down by the lighting design which blackened after almost every song. It didn’t build the anticipation that maybe they had hoped for, and instead brought the show to a halt. While the crowd still screamed for more, a smoother lighting transition between songs would have kept the momentum going.

The sound, too, was sometimes a little muffled as Wallen’s words weren’t clearly understood. However, these are only minor complaints and are no fault of the performers themselves.

The event, which was supposed to finish at 10.45pm, ran over 11pm with Wallen delighting the crowd with three additional songs during his encore.