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Jason Aldean performs in Las Vegas for first time since shooting

Updated December 7, 2019 - 6:57 am

There was no mistaking Jason Aldean’s objective in his first show in Las Vegas since the Oct. 1 shooting tragedy. He made sure of that.

“It’s a real special night for us,” Aldean told the packed house at Park MGM’s Park Theater during his “Ride All Night” tour stop Friday night. “… We got a lotta people in the crowd tonight who are family to us, so welcome out everybody. It’s good to be back in Las Vegas. This is our first show back, and make no mistake about it, we came back to blow it out for you tonight.”

The crowd roared through that speech. Aldean then launched into “Crazy Town,” from his 2009 album, “Wide Open.”

For the first time, Park Theater’s lower section was set up as a standing, general admission show. A sellout crowd of 5,800 was announced.

Aldean capped the concert with “When She Says Baby,” the song he had just started to perform when the shooting erupted: and a cover of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down,” which Aldean performed on “Saturday Night Live” six days after the shootings.

“Last time we were starting this song here, we got a little interrupted,” Aldean said in introducing “When She Says Baby.” “So let’s finish it, how ‘bout that?”

Earlier, nine songs into the set during “Any Old Barstool,” a man in a wheelchair wearing a Route 91 T-shirt and waving an American flag was hoisted by fans. The crowd again burst into cheers.

Aldean had barely begun the song “When She Says Baby” when the shooting broke out on Oct. 1, 2017, killing 59 concertgoers and injuring hundreds more. Prior to Friday’s show, Aldean was most recently on stage in Las Vegas in April at the Academy of Country Music Awards show at MGM Grand Garden when he accepted the ACM Artist of the Decade Award.

There was no mention of the Oct. 1 tragedy from the stage that night as Aldean accepted the award from country legend George Strait, who coincidentally is headlining this weekend just next door to Park Theater at T-Mobile Arena.

In an interview prior to the iHeartRadio Music Festival in September 2018, Aldean recalled the shootings and the months that followed.

“For us, it’s sort of been a daily thing. Every night in our meet-and-greets, we meet new fans who were here,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve played a show this year where we haven’t had survivors come out to the show. I feel we do that on a daily basis.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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