Interview: Jason Aldean Is Looking for Fans’ Reactions on We Back Tour
Jason Aldean recently announced a new leg of dates for his 2020 We Back Tour. The first set of shows is running currently, through mid-March, with Morgan Wallen and Riley Green as openers, and the second leg, featuring Brett Young and Mitchell Tenpenny, will pick up in July and go until August.
Aldean's 2020 tour is named after his single "We Back," from the album 9, which the country star released in the fall of 2019. The trek is giving Aldean his first chance to play most of the songs from the album live for fans: He played a few sporadic shows after his 2019 Ride All Night Tour wrapped, but the first few shows of this tour have determined what reception to the newer music is like.
"We haven’t really played a ton of shows since the album came out. It came out later in the year, when we were pretty much done with our tour last year. So we haven’t had a chance to try them out a lot," Aldean recently told The Boot over the phone. "Typically, when you’re playing new songs that people don’t really know, it’s a little harder to get a read on it, because they’re kind of listening. It’s something they’re not familiar with. Once the album’s been out for a little bit and they know the songs, you kind of get a better read once you see people singing back to you."
Aldean has been touring for a decade, and attendees have come to expect quite a bit from his concerts. Many of the shows on the summer segment of his We Back Tour will be at big, outdoor stages. In order to keep things interesting, Aldean curates a setlist that keeps the energy high and gives people what they want to hear; he combines new material and old hits for a crowd-pleasing sequence of songs.
"I think when you’ve got a lot of songs that are hits that people are familiar with, it kind of helps, because you take a new song that maybe they haven’t heard and you sandwich it between two big hits. You don’t wanna play a lot of things that maybe people aren’t familiar with back to back, because you might can lose them if they start hearing a bunch of stuff they don’t know," Aldean says. "For us, I try not to hit ‘em with too many things in a row like that. We’ll play “Dirt Road Anthem” and then “We Back” and then “She’s Country.” So it’s like you’re hitting them with two big hits and then you’re putting this other thing right in the middle. That’s typically how I try to do it."
LOOK: Jason Aldean's Best Live Shots
As for "We Back," Aldean's current radio single and the tour's namesake song, it likely won't be the first tune fans hear during the show. "If it’s a current single that we have out, I try not to put it too early in the show; I try to leave it for a little later in the show, just for people to kind of build the anticipation for that song a little bit," Aldean says.
Aldean has quite the repertoire of songs from which to choose. Plenty has happened between his first record and now, but the sound and sentiment of 9 is not all that far from where he began. While he's experimented with elements of different genres on his albums over the years, Aldean has stayed true to making music that he enjoys rather than chasing trends. His authenticity lies in cutting songs he thinks are the best fit for him.
"I think my style has always kind of been a little all over the place: We’ve put out things that have had a little bit more of a pop sound to them, some things have had a little bit more of a R&B or hip-hop [and], obviously, traditional country [sound]. But I love all those things," Aldean says. "So I think, on every record, I’ve always just tried to go in and cut songs that I liked that I thought were cool, and whatever direction it took us in, that’s just the direction we went."
Aldean has kept the same approach over time, and it's paid off for him, career-wise. Doing what he likes, uncompromisingly, is a time-tested plan.
"I think, over the years, for me, my game plan has never really changed. I try not to pay too much attention to what’s popular at the time or what the trend may be at the time," Aldean says. "Ultimately, I gotta go out and play those songs every night, and I wanna go out and play songs that I like."
There are about a dozen dates left on the first leg of Aldean's 2020 We Back Tour. The second half kicks off on July 17.
10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Jason Aldean
Test Your Jason Aldean Knowledge!