‘Worth the year-long wait,’ Luke Combs shines at the Smoothie King Center

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Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.

Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Originally scheduled for September 22, 2020, the Luke Combs concert was just one of hundreds, if not thousands of events postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Ticketholders were given the option to get their money back or hold onto their tickets in hopes that one day, the concert would go on as planned. And I can say firsthand, anyone who held onto their ticket got the show of a lifetime.

Held on Tuesday, November 16, in the heart of New Orleans, the scene was set. A cool winter night allowed the guys to break out their country flannels and the girls to shimmy into their flare jeans. And what’s a country music concert without cowboy boots? Luke Combs is country, but not classic country, so there were very few cowboy hats. Also, indoor events aren’t the best for hats, as they sometimes block the view of those around you.

Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.
Luke Combs performs to more than 10,000 at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.

Many locals were shocked at the stage placement, my mother being one of them. “It’s in the round!” she exclaimed. I smiled and laughed and asked her what in the world that meant. Then I saw the stage and I felt like I was at a wrestling match, not a country music concert. The big square stage was in the center of the floor, and on it sat a smaller, round stage that rotated, for the seated band.

Fans surrounded the stage 360 degrees. The pit also surrounded the stage 360 degrees and Luke Combs made sure to cover every inch of that stage, performing directly to each side of the pit. No one was left out at this show. The Smoothie King Center only has 4 levels: floor, 100 section, 200 section, and 300 section, so to be honest, every seat is a great seat at this venue. The four massive, double-sided TV screens hanging above the stage also made for great up-close viewing.

Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.
Luke Combs sings without his band at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.

First out, the band. All seven members climbed up on stage and opened with a bang. Luke Combs came walking through the pit like a UFC fighter making his grand entrance. It was very intimate and you could tell the fans on the floor ate it up. First song up, “Cold as You” from his debut album and #1 deluxe album, “What You See Ain’t Always What You Get.” The crowd went wild. Screams, cheers, and chants echoed throughout the venue, and it didn’t stop after this song.

Two or more songs followed before the music went low, and Luke Combs took to the mic to introduce his band. He announced where each member was from and gave them a few seconds to show off their musical abilities. Drums, electric guitars, a steel guitar, bass guitars, acoustic guitars, and banjos. An array of sounds were produced on stage that night.

Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.
Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.

The crowd was incredibly interactive, singing, dancing, and cheering all night. Especially when Luke Combs played “South on Ya.” He explained that he only plays this song when he performs in the south, and this was definitely one of those occasions.

Another monumental moment during the show came when Luke Combs sent his band away for a break. In a very intimate moment with the crowd, all by himself on stage, he performed “This One’s for You” off of the album “This One’s for You Too.” He said this song is very special to him and that he wanted to sing it to us.

The 55th Annual CMA Awards aired on November 10 and on that night, Luke Combs unveiled his latest single, “Doin’ This.” Minutes later his name was called as the winner of Entertainer of the Year. And at this concert in New Orleans, Luke Combs performed this song for only the second time ever, and the first time on tour.

Luke Combs performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.
Luke Combs’s band performs at the Smoothie King Center on November 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Victoria Cristina, WGNO.

More than 20 songs later, Luke Combs and the band left the stage, but only long enough for the crowd to get a good chant going, begging for an encore. That’s when Luke Combs and his pianist, Neil Tankersley, came out for a slow song. The lights dimmed and he sang “Better Together.” It was another intimate moment between Luke Combs and the crowd.

Then, the band reappeared for one final song, “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” All the band members were wearing Mardi Gras beads, a much-appreciated tribute to the great city of New Orleans. The song ended and the lights came on. The band members threw beads to the crowd as they began their exit. The fantastic and unforgettable event finally came to a close.

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