“And I ain't gonna lie, I might have had one or two/ but you're givin' me a feeling that I can't shake/ that ain't the tequila talkin' babe/ the way you're smiling's got me thinking maybe/ we should let the salt and the lime have its way/ we'll make up our minds tomorrow, but either way/ baby, I'm fallin' and that ain't the tequila talkin'- ‘ Tequila Talkin' - Dan Isbell-Kameron Marlowe-Ray Fulcher

The sun was going down on the south side of town as country music fans shared trams, trains and cars with Collingwood and St Kilda fans heading to the MCG.

There may have been 69,000 plus fans clad in Magpies and Saints scarves, guernseys and caps at the football colosseum but the smaller nearby Margaret Court Arena was a sell-out show.

But there was no sign of tennis racquets brandished by country fans but cowboy clobber such as hats, jackets and even Lainey Wilson tee shirts.

It may have been a long journey from opening act Kameron Marlowe's home state North Carolina but he had a packed pit-stop at CMC Rocks Queensland in Ipswich with fellow support act Jackson Dean, headliner Lainey Wilson and old many more.

Marlowe, just 26, proved why had soared from a General Motors car parts salesman to a major star in Nashville with platinum sales after appearing on The Voice in America in 2018.

Kameron led his three-piece band through a raucous bluesy country set from his 2022 debut album We Were Cowboys.

They opened with Over Now and segued into Tequila Talkin', Burn Em All, Strangers, Girl On Fire and Tennessee Don't Mind.

Kameron introduced his crowd pleasing Giving You Up as his first platinum selling single in the U.S. with silver sales status in Australia.

He thanked fans for arriving early for his curtain raiser and, of course, added other platitudes that may have been lost in the enthusiastic audience response but included “welcome Melbourne.”

It was a much shorter set than the time lapse before Maryland minstrel Jackson Dean hit the stage with his quartet.


“I got plates from Carolina/ I got one from Tennessee/ and I'm one chrome hitch away/ from being where I wanna be/ I got vagabonds and old ex-cons/ a beer can's throw away/ like a castle up on 12-inch block/ and pride underneath the paint.” - Trailer Park - Cary Barlowe-Jackson Dean-Jesse Frasure

Maryland maverick Jackson Dean, just 23, was no stranger to many of the rapidly growing audience after his Sydney and Melbourne headlining concerts last October.

Dean and his hard rocking quartet kicked off his 10-song set with debut album Greenbroke title track and Trailer Park after the customary “welcome Melbourne” and thanking fans who boomeranged after seeing him live last year.

“I love being here,” he revealed as he added “we tune up on stage because we care.”

He explained the source of Heavens To Betsy and accelerated the tempo with Wings, Train 49 , Fearless and 1971 - “the first song we wrote as a band.”

Apologies if that was the wrong song but crowd response drowned the vocal mike at regular intervals.

Dean finished his set with Don't Come Looking which had earned over 200 million streams on Paramount's Yellowstone TV series.

“We love you Melbourne, we'll see you all next time,” was Dean's adios as he exited the stage.


“F250 with a daisy on the dash/ God, guns, country bumper sticker on the back/ throwback bell rangin' britches fit like a Friday night/ mama's got chicken popping in the Crisco/ daddy prays for rain, so the green money grows (green money)/ barefoot barbed wire boondocks 'til I tie-dye.” - “ Hillbilly Hippie ” - Terri Jo Box-Jeremy Bussey-Lainey Wilson

Prolific award-winning Louisiana raised chart topping chanteuse Lainey Wilson hit the stage in a colourful shower of lights igniting a riveting rainstorm.

Grammy winner Wilson was a bucolic beacon in the big smoke with her bellbottoms, turquoise belt buckle and a horse print shirt beneath a fringed, leather vest and wide-brimmed hat.

The CMA Entertainer Of The Year opened her set with Hold My Halo - a song about embracing her wild side.

She disposed of the customary Australian shoey at the start of her set - she described her double shoey as a “holler and swaller.”

It was that type of celebration of life on the wild side for this swaggering sweetheart of the rodeo.

Lainey, just 31, told fans she was raised in Baskin, Louisiana - a town of 250 people by her mother Michelle - a schoolteacher - and her farmer father Brian.

She emphasised her redneck hippie roots in her intros for Hillbilly Hippie , Road Runner and Smell Like Smoke, replete with backstage video illustrations depicting the herb superb in green pastures .

Lainey leaped from towering steps at the back of the stage to the front with amazing agility.

She swirled and danced with moves that may have been equally at home on the playing fields of the MCG.
Lainey named checked Keith Urban as she picked up her guitar and whipped through hot tunes Country's Cool Again, Kristin Chenoweth's What Would Dolly Do?, Grease and Rolling Stone.

She repeatedly expressed her love of nineties country and performed a dynamic revamp of What's Up , originally recorded by 4 Non-Blondes .

Lainey complimented her hit Watermelon Moonshine with a chorus of Strawberry Wine she credited to her Nashville peer Deana Carter.

The singer played her guitars with her guitarist and bassist in joyous joint ventures as she roamed all areas of the stage including the drummer's band stand.

She was joined by Jet singer Nic Cester who performed Cold Hard Bitch and Are You Gonna Be My Girl.

“I bet y'all weren't expecting that,” Lainey said following their duet.

She introduced Atta Girl with her daily mantra. “I am beautiful. I am smart. I'm godly. I'm fearless. If somebody tells me I can't do it, hold my beer. Watch this,” Wilson joked as she welcomed the many young girls in the crowd.

Wilson returned to her roots with Wildflowers And Wild Horses underneath the large back stage video of the song featuring many wild horses and Ghost Riders In The Sky by Stan Jones.

She also ignited her double shot of trucking songs Hardy hit Wait In The Truck and Heart Like A Truck into top gear.

Wilson proved a maestro of communication and concentration as she kneeled on the front of the stage walkway and didn't miss a lyric as she sang while she signed hats, belts, tee shirts and other items thrust at her by her enthusiastic mosh pit princesses.

She reprised Things A Man Oughta Know as her encore in a show that proved she was worthy of the capacity crowd that preceded her second Margaret Court concert the next night as she proved a dynamic diva.

And, of course, she promised to return to Australia - especially Melbourne - when she had the time and demand.

Lainey has four studio albums, a Grammy, six Academy Of Country Music Awards and seven Country Music Association Award under her belt buckle as cashed up collateral.

Reviewed by David Dawson 2024

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