The Best Country Concerts We Saw In 2023
These were the best shows we saw throughout the year.
Morgan Wallen, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Kane Brown; Photos Provided
As we bid farewell to 2023, Country Now is recapping the best country concerts we saw throughout the year.
This was certainly an impressive time for touring as country music came back to life on stage in full swing. However, 2023 will be hard to top as it produced countless sold-out shows, massive months-long tours, and plenty of historic feats along the way.
Seasoned country stars like Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs broke attendance records amid their wildly successful stadium tours while rising stars like Ashley Cooke, Ian Munsick and more achieved milestones in their own rights.
There have been so many country concerts that have brought fans together within the past 365 days, and we have compiled a list of some of our favorite shows in anticipation for another busy year of touring in 2024.
Here are the best country concerts we saw in 2023 in chronological order.
Scotty McCreery At Rialto Square Theatre
Scotty McCreery braved Chicago’s snowy winter weather as he made his way to the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, IL on January 17 for the third stop on his headlining Damn Strait Tour. The North Carolina native performed a 90-minute set featuring fan-favorites spanning from his 2011 Clear As Day album to his latest project, Same Truck (Deluxe). While the experience didn’t offer pyrotechnics or confetti filling the two-level venue, fans were captivated by McCreery’s wholesome nature, idolized love stories and enchanting songs. McCreery performed a total of 15 songs, in addition to an encore that featured a medley of country classics and earned a standing ovation from the packed-out crowd.
Carrie Underwood At Bridgestone Arena
Carrie Underwood brought her wildly successful Denim & Rhinestones Tour to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on March 1. The two-hour show was a jaw-dropping spectacle that found the eight-time GRAMMY winner showcasing her impeccable vocals and commanding stage presence while bringing her biggest hits to life with larger-than-life production elements. There was fire, several eye-catching outfit changes, a giant swing that flew her across the arena, pyrotechnics, stunning visuals, and so much more. Underwood truly outdid herself on this tour.
Kenny Chesney at John Paul Jones Arena
Country superstar Kenny Chesney thrilled fans during the kick-off of his I Go Back 2023 Tour with a sold-out show at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia on March 23. Over the course of two hours, the East Tennessee native performed nearly 30 songs and brought the same energy to the arena as he would a stadium. He also performed several surprise songs throughout the evening, keeping his promise to change up the setlist for the limited run of arena shows.
Kane Brown At Bridgestone Arena
Kane Brown left his mark in Nashville, TN when he delivered his first solo headlining show at Bridgestone Arena on March 31. This energy-filled concert marked yet another memorable stop on the U.S. leg of Brown’s massive headlining Drunk or Dreaming Tour. At the start of the evening, Brown pledged to host a great night, and he delivered that plus more throughout the career-spanning setlist of fiery party anthems, smoke-filled serenades and of course the beloved moment his wife, Katelyn graced the stage to deliver their “Thank God” duet.
Luke Combs At Soldier Field
Chicago, IL received a big dose of country music when Luke Combs brought his sold-out 2023 World Tour to Soldier Field on Saturday, May 6. Over the course of two hours, the North Carolina native showcased his undeniable talent, playing tracks that spanned from his debut album all the way to his latest collections, Growin’ Up and Getting’ Old. Fans kept the energy high all night long, even when the rain began to pour down into the open stadium in the midst of Combs’ seven-week No. 1 “Beautiful Crazy.” To close the show, he performed a cover of Brooks & Dunn’s “Brand New Man” alongside his openers Brent Cobb, Cleto Cordero of Flatland Calvary, Lainey Wilson and Riley Green.
Ian Munsick At The Ryman
May 16, 2023 will forever be remembered by Ian Munsick as the day he made his coveted debut at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Fans packed out the legendary venue to experience the Wyoming native’s Western country sound that echoed through the speakers as he delivered more than 20 of his fiddle-ridden tunes. Since this was such a special night for Munsick, he created a unique setlist that was mostly made up of tracks off his sophomore album, White Buffalo. This caused the audience to cheer and stomp their boots as they soaked up every lick of talent on stage. As the show neared the end, he made his way back to the stage with his father and two brothers to help him sing a cover of Wade Montgomery’s “Weakness.”
Morgan Wallen At Wrigley Field
After six weeks of doctor-ordered vocal rest that forced Morgan Wallen to postpone several dates of his One Night At A Time World Tour, the country star made his triumphant return to the stage in Chicago, IL on June 22. Despite his vocal cord trauma, Wallen’s voice sounded strong as ever as he delivered a 24-song set in front of a near record-breaking crowd of 41,538 fans at Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Field, and that was just the first of two nights at the iconic stadium. He ended the evening with a special appearance by “Broadway Girls” collaborator, Lil Durk, followed by a three-song encore.
Thomas Rhett At United Center
Thomas Rhett returned to Chicago, IL on July 28 during a stop on his Home Team 23 Tour. The 90-minute career-spanning setlist came to life inside the United Center and marked a full-circle moment for Rhett, who began his career playing in the Windy City. The arena, which holds a capacity of approximately 23,000 fans welcomed Thomas Rhett to a sold-out crowd. With each song, he exhibited all the signs of a true entertainer as he delivered a mix of upbeat jams and love-filled ballads while also making sure every section of the arena felt connected to his performance.
Jordan Davis at Ascend Amphitheater
Jordan Davis cemented his status as a headlining act when his Damn Good Time Tour came to Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater on September 1. Davis delivered a 90-minute set packed with hits, including his chart-topping singles like “Next Thing You Know,” “Singles You Up,” and “Buy Dirt,” and showcased his ability to entertain a massive crowd. This tour is just the beginning of the country hitmaker’s run as a headliner. He has a bright future ahead.
Ashley Cooke At Joe’s On Weed St.
Ashley Cooke experienced a milestone moment when she made her debut on the ACM award-winning stage at Chicago’s Joe’s On Weed St. as part of her first-ever headlining tour. Throughout the evening of October 12, Cooke played a nearly 90-minute set that featured a slew of tracks off her just-released debut album, Shot in the Dark. Additionally, she offered a glimpse into her days of performing Nashville’s strip of iconic bars on Broadway with a medley of country classics. Cooke not only delivered each song of the 16-track setlist with crisp vocals and passion-fueled energy, but she also took every opportunity to interact with her fans.
Kelsea Ballerini at Thompson Boling Arena
Kelsea Ballerini returned to her hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. to deliver the biggest headlining show of her career at Thompson-Boling Arena on November 2. The sold-out show was a testament to her star power, natural-born ability to entertain, and the unwavering connection she shares with her fans. Fans were treated to performances of her biggest hits as well as songs from her GRAMMY-nominated project, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat. Ballerini was born to entertain and fans can only hope that this show was a taste of a full arena tour to come in 2024.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.