Story & Photos by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
The Missouri State Fair hosted its first sold out show since Florida Georgia Line’s headlining show in 2014 Saturday night as Lee Ann Womack and Alan Jackson played the Pepsi Grandstand.
Fans piled into the stadium, packing seats before opener Womack took the stage. She set the tone for the night, joking with the crowd and getting people out of their seats dancing and singing along. Throughout her set, Womack spoke about her east Texas roots and commented about radio stations playing “real” country music.
Despite her roots, Womack found success in the ‘90s crossing country music into the pop genre. Her set was more laid back, and she stuck to a more country-oriented setlist. Her thin voice projecting the melodies and echoing around the Fairgrounds kicked off a night Fair-goers won’t soon forget. She gave fans a taste of her hits as well as some unreleased material from her upcoming album.
Jackson took the stage with eight band members and an enormous video screen backdrop, video displaying numerous awards the country legend has won kicked off the set to an enormous applause from the crowd.
He can add Country Music Hall of Famer to his growing list, but Jackson downplayed his awards and instead focused on the crowd and his music. He also mentioned radio stations playing “real” country music, a dig at the industry’s consistent movement toward formulaic pop-sounding songs that have watered down an industry known for giving voice to blue collar workers.
Jackson made it a point to recognize fans at the show, pointing and winking throughout his set. Multiple times he’d let his band – the Strayhorns – play while he’d toss guitar picks and T-shirts into the crowd. While playing “Livin’ On Love,” he grabbed a poster a fan had made that said “Livin On Love For 50 Years” and signed it for the couple.
That wasn’t all Jackson had in store for his fans. A former member of The Strayhorns was at the Fair as a vendor for his hog feed company, and Jackson had him come on stage and sing back-up melody. Later in the set, Womack joined him for “Till the End.”
Jackson proved why he’s an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, from playing through his hits such as “Here in the Real World,” “Chattahoochee” and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” to working the crowd the entire time he was on stage. His career has spanned more than 30 years with more singles and more awards than he (admitted on stage) can count.
Follow Central Mo News on Facebook for an extended gallery.