Saginaw,Michigan(October 13,2022)-One of country music’s most recent breakthrough hitmakers delivered on being one of the hottest tickets in recent memory this past Thursday night. Walker Hayes and his Glad You’re Here Tour rolled into Mid-Michigan and performed a fun filled two hour set for a sold out crowd at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.
Long standing country fans know Hayes from his 2017 album Boom and it’s hit single, “You Broke Up with Me.” But most fans in the crowd — and across the country for that matter— are much more familiar with his viral 2021 chart topper “Fancy Like,” which earned the country hit-maker his coveted Gold card at the restaurant chain mentioned in the hit song. Either way, plenty in attendance knew enough of the 42-year-old Alabama native’s tracks to dance and sing along to the show that stayed vibrant and throughly entertaining all night long.
“What up Saginaw?” Hayes asked after his opening run of “Show Me the Country,” “Country Stuff” and the aforementioned “You Broke Up with Me,” the later earning a deafening roar from the overflowing Dow Center. “This is the song that really got me a job in the music business,” he joked afterwards in reference to the track that made the Top 10 on the Country charts.
Singing with plenty of enthusiasm and playfulness, Hayes turned up the heat on the evening’s setlist with crowd favorites “Same Drunk, Different Beer,” “Don’t Let Her” and a thumping take on the innuendo heavy “U Gurl,” that had grandmothers up and dancing in ways that just might have been outlawed or even illegal 50 years ago!
“This is the best job in the world,” he told the crowd between songs. “Beats working at Costco.”
Throughout the night, Hayes shimmied across the stage dozens of times while singing cuts such as “Delorean” and “Fine as Hell,” face to face with as many fans as he could. “I’m going to make sure I point to everyone I can tonight,” he said with the gesture to one lucky attendee. Hand slaps and fist-bumps were prevalent throughout the evening that resulted in smiles and overwhelming jubilation from the lucky recipients who found themselves in position for an up close moment with the budding superstar.
Who is Walker Hayes if you don’t already know? Charles Edgar Walker Hayes was born in Alabama and went on to graduate from Birmingham–Southern College in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in music. Hayes along his wife, Laney, took a leap of faith and moved to Nashville in 2005, chasing his dream to get into the country music business. After multiple attempts at music and many regular jobs, Hayes finally broke through in 2010 with his first single, “Pants,” that as he told the crowd,”Reignited the passion that I thought was gone.”
His current fans are also happy his passion stayed true.
Writing and performing steadily in the years that followed Walker’s first mainstream success came with the 2017 release titled Boom and its hit single, “You Broke Up with Me.” As a follow-up, Hayes released the EP Country Stuff in 2021 and one of its tracks, “Fancy Like,” became a viral hit through TikTok and unbelievably crested at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. If that itself wasn’t enough to certify Hayes career choice, the song continued to climb the charts culminating its astonishing run by reaching the highly coveted No.1 position on the Hot Country Songs chart. Subsequently, some of those same EP’s tracks carried over to his break through album, Country Stuff the Album, released in early in 2022. The album has also produced the hit singles “U Gurl” and “AA.”
In addition to the favorites every fan wanted to hear, Thursday’s 20-song setlist included “Beautiful,” a personal track for his wife that had fans singing along as the lyrics appeared on the two massive LCD panels behind the band, a scene that would repeat itself multiple times throughout the nearly two-hour performance. Hayes also performed even though it’s not that new at all.
“I hate when I go to a concert and they say, ‘Hey we got some new music for ya’ll. I didn’t come to hear the new music, I came to hear the hits,” he said, earning a cheer from the crowd. “This is a song I wrote way back. It’s one of my kids’ favorite, and I think the reason they love it is because it’s got a dog bark in it.” Hayes continued “That Dog’ll Hunt, comes from a popular saying where I grew up. Whether you took a bite of a tasty burger, saw a pretty girl walk by or caught a big fish, you’d yell, “That dog’ll hunt!””
Throughout the night, Hayes continually interacted with the crowd, shouting out to the folks up in the bleachers as well as down in the pit. He shared personal stories, sang his heart out and wasn’t afraid to admit when he forgot a lyric, receiving laughs and cheers from the audience.”
“I love getting to see this part of the country,” Hayes said. “It’s so nice to be here. We had a good day today.”
Before closing out the main set with the Flo Rida cover of “High Heels” and this most recent single “Y’all Life,” Hayes took a moment to address the fans: “I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Hayes told the packed arena. “We’re experiencing a enormous amount of growth right now, and man we love it. Our music is getting out there, getting spread far and wide and we still can’t believe it.If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here tonight.”
After a well deserved breather off stage, Walker Hayes ended the night as he started, telling stories about his life and how they became the songs on his records. Starting the two song encore with a “Lela’s Stars” titled after his daughter and a life changing event with his beloved Honda Accord, the entertaining night of story and song culminated with a over the top sing along with the monster hit that literally changed Hayes life, “Fancy Like.”
Walker Hayes songs may not be everyones “cup of tea” in country music but there is no denying his live performances are two hours of shear entertainment and loaded with oodles of fun. There are definitely bigger stars out there who put on bigger productions and lavish shows, but none with a much heart felt emotion and relatability than Walker Hayes. Based on the sold out Dow Center and the deafening adulation Hayes received after each song, his music ain’t too bad either.