When George Strait says goodbye, he makes quite the party out of it.
On Saturday night, the country music legend gathered more than 100,000 of his friends together in his home state of Texas, serenading them with hit after hit from his 33-year career.
Strait, 62, welcomed a star-studded roster of guests, including Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Martina McBride and Faith Hill, with opening act Asleep at the Wheel.
The concert, which capped off his Cowboy Rides Away tour, attracted 104,793 fans to the mammoth AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – breaking the record for the largest indoor concert in North America. (It also possibly broke the record for the number of sundress/cowgirl boot combos under one roof.)
Strolling toward the circular, rotating stage to the intro to “Here For a Good Time,” the singer known as King George reacted to the screaming masses by pumping his fist and beaming. He then began his three-and-a-half hour set with “Check Yes or No.”
The concert was interspersed with Strait’s big-name pals, who each sang two songs with the icon. Aldean was one of many who took a moment to recognize Strait’s legacy: “George Strait has been a big influence on me and everybody else in Nashville, and every country artist that has ever sung into a microphone.”
Other highlights included the Jackson/Strait duet “Amarillo by Morning” and a bit of perfect harmonizing with McBride on “Jackson” and “Golden Ring.” Lambert, wearing the sparkliest cowgirl boots in the arena, was giddy as she took it all in. “I m playing at home in Texas with the king of country music and the king of Texas!” she said.
To deafening cheers of approval, the entire lineup joined Strait onstage for “All My Exes Live in Texas” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”
But all parties must come to an end. Before he started singing “The Cowboy Rides Away,” Strait admitted, “I almost hate to sing this number right here.”
Thanking the fans for more than three decades of support, he added a hint that we haven’t seen the last of this cowboy: “As Arnold Schwarzenegger says, ‘I’ll be back.’ ”