Country icon played The Showroom at the Golden Nugget for the first time in his career during NFR

Fitting that on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, one of the most unabashedly patriotic artists in all of music would take the stage. Such was the case in the Golden Nugget showroom as Aaron Tippin bounded on stage shortly after 10 pm.

Tippin’s timeless music has spoken to the very core of rural, blue-collar life for three decades. What a better pairing than a man who sings about working hard to earn a living than an audience of cowboys at National Finals Rodeo who pour blood, sweat, and tears into ranch work every day?

“Ready to Rock” set the tone for the evening. The rodeo done for the day, the crowd was ready to cut lose. That led into a rousing singalong of Tippin’s breakout hit, “You’ve Got to Stand for Something.” The mostly-NFR crowd sang it with all the conviction their southern and middle-American values afforded them.

“Working Man’s Ph.D” also spoke to the wisdom of the common man. The crowd got the loudest on the chorus’s refrain, “A few more people should be pulling their weight.”

Tippin’s vocal have remained unchanged from his RCA days. The notoriously health-conscious country star appeared 20 years younger than his current age, gleaming silver hair and graying iconic mustache be damned.

The most poignant moment came when Aaron Tippin discussed the high-flying way his Air Force pilot instructor father found out the the younger Tippin had been born. The elder Tippin was in the middle of a flight training session when the tower radioed in to say he had become the proud father of a baby boy. It was 1958.

That led into the song “He Believed,” about Tippin’s father’s strong faith. “Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way,” another song about the man he called “the coolest guy ever,” followed.

The energy was electric. The Showroom at Golden Nugget is a special venue with an almost mythic history. It’s intimate, 600-seat setting and the astute eye of venue director Dave Gillie created a one-of-a-kind experience for Tippin fans. It was truly up close and personal.

What may surprise readers about the man whose tank-wearing tough guy facade defined his image, is that Aaron Tippin is a true redneck goofball. Many singers were accompanied by stories visualized through the Georgia native’s expressive face, limber body, and excellent comedic timing. This is a man who lives the no-fucks-given attitude that underlies his hits.

To that end, “Kiss This,” a song written with Tippin’s wife Thea, ended the night on an empowering note. Not often a man sings about a woman getting the better of a cheatin’ man.

Penultimate to the finale, Tippin pulled out a patriotic guitar and had the crowd on their feet with “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly.” Tippin told TMU, exclusively, that the song was released after — but written before — the attacks on 9/11. While other country stars were releasing songs about kicking butt over seas, he chose to release a song that highlighted the strength of the nation.

Tippin’s 90-minute show at the legendary Golden Nugget proved what his fans have known for 32 years: the man — and his music — is the heart and soul of America.

Our in-person interview with Tippin airs later this month on The Music Universe Podcast.