George Strait bids farewell to Salt Lake City

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George Strait took his final bow and stepped offstage, saying his final goodbye to his fans in Salt Lake City, as 20,000 people cheered and applauded him.

On Friday night, the King of Country made a stop at Energy Solutions Arena as part of his “Cowboy Rides Away” tour, his last tour before retirement.

Strait set the mood for the evening by opening with one of his 59 No. 1 hits, “Here for a Good Time,” following it quickly with another chart topper, “Check Yes or No.”

His fans sang along with every word throughout the two-and-a-half hour set, only quieting down when Strait reminisced on his more than 30 years in show business. He talked about his first few albums, explained who wrote the songs and joked about his first few albums, “Strait Country” and “Strait from the Heart.”

“Back then, I thought I had to have ‘Strait’ in every album title,” he said.

Country artist George Strait performed for his last time at Energy Solutions Arena after 30 years in the industry. (Photo courtesy Leigh Parr)

The concert was a break from most popular music today. There were no special effects and no pressure for Strait to do anything except stand on the stage and sing. He did it well; his voice was as smooth as it was when he started out in 1984.

His deep voice isn’t the only thing that hasn’t changed throughout all his years performing; he said he still feels a huge rush every time he gets onstage.

“My feet don’t touch the ground until I’m behind those curtains again,” Strait said to his fans.

As the concert drew to a close, it was obvious that Strait felt emotional.

“When I first started, I figured I had maybe five good years to play my music for you guys,and now it’s been more than thirty,” he said. “I’ll always remember this.”

Strait isn’t the only person who will remember Friday night’s performance forever. Alex Ackerman, a senior from Filer, Idaho, said it was one of the greatest nights of her life.

“It really was a dream come true for me,” Ackerman said. “My dad is a huge George Strait fan, so growing up, some of my favorite memories were of him teaching me how to two-step in the kitchen to old George Strait albums and rocking out to George Strait on all of our family road trips, so being able to see him on his last tour was really neat.”

As he closed the show, Strait thanked his opener Martina McBride for touring with him and making the night so special for everybody. It was then, after an encore of “All My Exes Live in Texas” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” and after hours of performing, that he bowed and left the stage for good.

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