Strong words & a strong resolve to carry on: Jason Aldean delivers cathartic Tulsa concert, his first since Las Vegas

Jason Aldean performs in Tulsa, OK; ABC News Radio

As Jason Aldean took the stage Thursday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it could’ve been any other night on his They Don’t Know trek — until he sang his third song.

His impressive video intro rolled, and Aldean burst onstage to start the show with his current single that’s both the name of the tour and the title of his latest record. “They Don’t Know” led into “The Only Way I Know,” which segued into “Johnny Cash.”  And then Jason took nearly five minutes to talk about what was on most everyone’ s mind: the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas nearly two weeks ago.  Jason was on stage performing when the worst mass shooting in American history began.

The Georgia native admitted he’d struggled since to figure out how to approach this show. 

“Every day that goes by, we think about the 58 people that lost their lives,” Jason told the crowd. “I don’t really count that a****** that was doing the shooting for 59, I count the 58,” he added, as the crowd roared approval.

“… Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their family,” Jason went on, “and everybody else who was injured in that thing and everybody who just was there, because even though people may not have physical scars, it’s gonna be a mental thing for a lot of people for a long time.”

There were more strong words to come from Jason, as he voiced his outrage over the violence that seems to threaten American life as we know it.

“These people are gonna continue to try and hold us down and continue to try to do things to us that are gonna make us live in fear and be scared, and not go out and do what it is we want to do, whether it’s go to a concert or go to a ballgame or go to the mall or go to a movie,” he said.  “And to those people that keep trying to do that, I say f*** you, we don’t really care!”

“I want this to not be something that’s gonna be a downer for the rest of the night…” he concluded. “I want to play the show for you guys that the people in Las Vegas came to see and didn’t get a chance to, all right?”

From there, Jason stayed true to his word, delivering a barrage of close to twenty hits and favorites before his next mention of Las Vegas again. But this time, it was if he realized he’d cleared a hurdle, having almost made it through his first concert since the shooting.  He confessed it had been a struggle to physically stage the show, since most of his equipment is still part of a crime scene.

“I just want to say thank you guys, because you guys have helped us a ton tonight,” Jason declared. “You guys have helped us take the next step toward doing what we need to do: get out and play music and do what we do every night. And you guys have been a big reason for that tonight, so thank ya’ll so much for being here.”

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