Live Review: Zach Bryan @ Flemington Racecourse

11 December 2023 | 1:06 pm | Michael Prebeg

The rain doesn’t stop Zach Bryan from burning bright for one night only in Melbourne.

Zach Bryan

Zach Bryan (Credit: Trevor Pavlik)

More Zach Bryan More Zach Bryan

Dan Sultan starts things off as the rain pours down over thousands of fans packing into Flemington Racecourse. He charms the audience with his incredibly powerful soulful and rich vocals with raw and infectious melodic hooks and gives a rocking high-energy performance to amp up the crowd ready for the main event.

Country music’s brightest and fastest-rising star Zach Bryan brings his captivating music to Melbourne for one night only as part of ALWAYS LIVE. The Oklahoman singer-songwriter is at the ready with full-force, launching into his show with Open The Gate and instantly ignites the crowd singing along to every single word with him, almost overpowering his voice.

“I think music is the most beautiful thing in the world, bringing us all here to Melbourne, Australia. This next chorus is for you guys, I love every single one of you so sing it if you know it,” Bryan says.

He rolls into Godspeed from his debut album and bares his soul with vulnerable heartfelt lyrics as he reveals raw, gritty expression in his deep range of on-stage emotions that often fires him up to break out into a powerful growling vocal. He is a captivating performer and storyteller and experienced beyond his years.

“Everyone feeling rowdy tonight?” He asks as he sips his Budweiser and cheers to the sold-out show of over 30,000 fans in a sea of ponchos sticking it out in the rain and feeling grateful to be here tonight for this coveted show. He has a profound connection with his audience and between songs thanks the crowd for being here, expressing how much he loves every single one of his fans. And they love him too. Not only does the audience sing along to literally every song but is also always ready with the lyrics when he steps back from the microphone and warmly welcomes the voice of the crowd – often adding an extra chorus to allow for this.

Bryan dedicates Highway Boys to his band who travels with him on a lot of highways around the world. They come together with their genuine camaraderie and multi-talent of musical instruments including keyboards, drums, trumpet, banjo and a fiddle to really liven up the performance. Bryan’s music is relatable with alternative country roots but has more of a pop feel to make it more accessible and appealing to a wide audience.

Join our community with our FREE weekly newsletter

Bryan’s phenomenal performance proves to us just why he's one of the music industry's hottest newcomers taking the world by storm. With each song, he showcases his exceptional vocal abilities as he strums his acoustic guitar and belts out huge vocals with an urgent, raspy tone. His perfect blend of heartfelt melodies strikes a chord and make us either want to cry or start line dancing.

“I’m such a big fan of Dermot Kennedy. He’s one of the best musicians to ever exist and we’re honoured enough to have him here with us tonight,” says Bryan before welcoming him to the stage with open arms to join him for a couple of songs. The Irish singer-songwriter has been touring Australia and flew in to join him for this special performance tonight. They start off with Hey Driver, interchanging vocals with Kennedy filling in the parts of The War and Treaty (who originally recorded the song with Bryan). Together their powerful vocals are a match made in heaven.

“We’ve never played this song live so we’re gonna try our best and if we mess it up I’m gonna blame him,” jokes Bryan, before they give us Boys Of Faith with Kennedy pouring out his heart with commanding vocals for the Bon Iver parts. It’s a truly exciting moment as they sing this live together for the first time.

After Kennedy exits the stage, an audience member who has been holding a sign asking, ‘Can I play Heading South with you?’ gets his wish as Bryan brings him on stage to sing and play guitar together for the track. The talented fan proves himself as they jam on stage for the hit, and they do a shoey together on stage to celebrate the moment before Bryan continues on his own.

The show comes to an end with an encore of Revival where he brings his whole band and entourage on stage including special guests Kennedy and even motorsports racing driver Daniel Ricciardo for a sing along. His band each plays a solo as he officially introduces them individually and they repeat the chorus with increasing crescendo to the very end with a final honky-tonk.