Justin Moore & Clay Walker crank out the hits in Bakersfield

Both represent country music well

If you like your country cranked to 11 on a scale of 10, Justin Moore is your kinda music. The “We Didn’t Have Much” singer is back on the road after 16 months, performing in Bakersfield with 90’s country crooner Clay Walker opening the show. The Arkansas native brought his southern twang and party hits to the Mechanics Bank Arena for his first arena stop after the unintended break and the venue’s first show in 17 months.

Kicking off with the rowdy “Why We Drink,” Moore swooned the audience with his country swagger all night long. He played his nine No. 1 hits, which also included “Heaven Isn’t So Far Away,” “You Look Like I Need A Drink,” “Small Town USA” and the poignant “The Ones That Never Made It Back Home,” which he dedicates to all of the frontline workers and military personnel.

He kept the party going much of the night with the crowd singing along to every song. There were a few slower moments in the set, but the almost completely unmasked audience was too energetic to take a seat. They stayed on their feet all night long dancing and hollering as if it was 2019.

“I have to be honest, we ain’t played much lately. We’re a little bit nervous,” Moore told the crowd early in his 90 minute set. “This may not be the most professional show we ever played, but it may be the damn funnest one we every played… might be the longest.”

Moore kept the country rocking with “Kinda Don’t Care” into The Dukes of Hazzard theme, “Good Ole Boys” — originally performed by Waylon Jennings — “Hank It,” “Point At You,” “Backwoods” and more. Moore stuck mostly to the hits, but included a few new tracks that can be heard on his Straight Outta The Country EP, including “Consecutive Days Alive,” his soon-to-be 10th No. 1 “We Didn’t Have Much,” and “More Than Me,” a song he added last minute that he wrote in honor of his three daughters.

Moore played to the crowd all night long as they yearned for hit after hit. He swayed across the stage interacting with the crowd and even signing cowboy hats that were tossed on stage. His lone encore performance was his version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” that he recorded for their country tribute album seven years ago.

His staging was simple but effective. Moore didn’t use any affects or screens, but he didn’t need them as only half of the arena was utilized. His stage consisted of his five-piece band, a faux wooden wall backdrop and lights with deer antlers that represent his simplistic country lifestyle.

Walker got the crowd revved early with a nearly 40 minute singalong that contained five of his six No 1 singles. He launched with “Live Until I Die” and performed “Dreaming With My Eyes Open,” “If I Could Make A Living,” “Rumor Has It,” “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” and more. It was the ultimate 90s country mixtape.

“I really love this town. I have a rich history here,” Walker expressed on stage.

He also shared his love of traditional country music by performing George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning,” calling it “the best song ever written.”

Some lucky fans went home with an extra souvenir or two after Walker’s stage manager tossed several large inflatable balls and leis into the crowd for the Jamaican-flavored “Then What.” He then closed with his debut — and first No. 1 — “What’s It To You” from 1993. He made use of the night’s only pyrotechnics that included flares on both sides of the stage.

If traditional country and/or southern rock is your thing, then you won’t want to miss either one of these artists on tour, together or individually. Both released their debut singles more than 20 years apart, but are damn proud to be representing country music in life and on stage.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com