"I think for us going back to Vegas was something we wanted to do the right way," Jason Aldean explained

By Karen Mizoguchi
December 12, 2019 12:55 PM
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For Jason Aldean, Oct. 1, 2017, will be a night that forever changed him.

The country star returned to Las Vegas last Friday to perform for the first time in two years since the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in which 58 people were killed and over 800 injured after a gunman opened fire on the crowd from his 32nd floor hotel suite at an adjacent hotel. A 59th person died from her injuries last month.

On Thursday, Aldean, 42, spoke with Kelly Clarkson on her talk show, opening up about the trauma that he faced and why he chose to return to the same city where the deadliest mass shooting in United States history took place.

“It’s obviously something that I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” the singer said. “I think for us going back to Vegas was something we wanted to do the right way. We didn’t want to go in and try to do it too soon.”

Aldean added, “We felt like there was going to be a lot of people at our show that probably hadn’t been to one of our shows, maybe hadn’t been to a concert at all since that show. If they were going to come back out and that was part of the healing process for them.”

The father of four was on stage and was only a few songs into his presumptive 90-minute set when the shooting began, prompting him and his band to take cover and flee, much like the 22,000 people in attendance that evening.

Recalling the incident and how it impacted his concert return in Vegas, Aldean explained why he wanted to make his recent show a tribute to those who were affected. “We wanted to make it a safer environment, something to make them feel safer. We did Park MGM, a little 5,000 seat arena. The other one was outside, 30,000-40,000 people or whatever it was,” he said. “This was a little smaller, little more intimate where people can come and hopefully, feel a little more at ease, hopefully, help some of them.”

Credit: David Becker/Getty Images

Attendees and first responders from that deadly night attended Friday’s show, many of whom wore Route 91 T-shirts. While some of the audience members in his latest Vegas show may have attended their first concert since the shooting, Aldean had returned on the road very shortly after and was performing just days later.

“We had to get on stage the next week and try to get through all of it,” he recalled. “It was rough, the best thing for me was the fact that my wife was there and went through it, my band was there and went through it, my crew, everybody. We kind of leaned on each other and talked through it, nobody kept it bottled up. If you had a breakdown, you kind of had it in front of everybody and everybody knew what was going on.”

Aldean continued, “My wife, we could talk and understood what was going on because she was there. To me that helped more than anything. We’re on the other side of it now. We’re part of the Route 91 family now, so it’s a cool group.”

And during his Vegas show, the four-time Grammy nominee gave a special shout-out to the Route 91 family. “Tonight’s a really special night for us. We got a lot of people in the crowd who are family to us, so welcome everyone from Route 91. We’re glad to see you guys out. It’s good to be back here in Las Vegas,” he said. “It’s our first show back and make no mistake about it tonight, we came back to blow it out for you guys tonight. Let’s finish what we started, what y’all think!”