Review and photos by Leslie Elder Rogers.
The Hargray Capitol Theatre, formerly Cox Capitol Theatre, is an intimate venue in downtown Macon. The theater opened its’ doors in 1916. Originally a movie theater, it now caters to concerts as well. It has become a staple in the downtown Macon area and Cody Johnson got to see first-hand just how much appreciation “Maconites” have for good music. Johnson has been performing since he was 12 years old and to-date he has released six albums.
His fifth album, ‘Cowboy like Me’ (2014) finally propelled him from being unknown to most and to being a common name among country music fans. His most recent album, ‘Gotta’ Be Me’ (2016) debuted at number 11 on Billboard 200 chart and number 2 on Billboard Top Country Albums chart. This was the first sold out show at the Hargray Capitol Theatre that I have attended. I was impressed by the number of people that this venue could hold.
The opening act was a Georgia young man named Jordan Rager hailing from Loganville, Georgia. He began playing when he was 15 and has steadily continued to carve his way in the country music scene. His set was entirely acoustic, the same way he has opened for many other bands in the past. It was an intimate setting so having character was essential to being well-received by the crowd who gathered for Cody Johnson. With quirky comments and jokes, as well as some short stories in between songs, he kept our attention. He was a praiseworthy preface to the main act. Some of the songs performed were his own such as “One of the Good Ones” and “Ain’t like Me” along with covers of “Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old”, originally by Garth Brooks, “All Out of Beer” by Jason Aldean, and “Back Where I Come From” by Kenny Chesney.
Cody Johnson grew up in Huntsville, Texas and he brought that big Texan personality with him. He and his band came on stage ready to give the fans the raw and untamed show they came for. He was energetic, charismatic and genuinely talented. With an enthusiastic presence, he delivered each song flawlessly. The plethora of fans cheered and yelled with arms in the air and beer held high, as every word was spoken, every lyric was sung and every note was played. From start to finish, he was able to create a perfect show. He came on looking the part and sounding the part. He was a true depiction of today’s country music singer.
His band supported him entirely as he did them throughout the night. They were in tune with each other as they played back and forth across the stage showing off their skills one by one. Entertainers must be able to control and manipulate the stage at all times. It was obvious that Cody Johnson and the entire band are already seasoned in doing this. Creatively, Johnson mastered the art of not only providing amazing home-grown, heartfelt music, but ensuring that the fans were actively engaged in the entire show beginning to end.
Their set list was lengthy with were several acoustic interludes, guitar solos and fiddle playing too. This helped the audience to better appreciate the importance of each instrument and to recognize that each aspect is vital to the completeness of the performance. They brilliantly performed many songs including “Grass Stains”, “Wild as You”, “Diamond in my Pocket”, “Gotta Be Me” and “Cowboy Like Me”. They made sure to include songs from just about every album that has been released. The music of Merle Haggard and Bob Seger were even incorporated in the show as Johnson covered “The Way I Am” and “Turn the Page”. If you love country music, I highly recommend grabbing tickets to a Cody Johnson show near you. You will not be disappointed.
Setlist – Jordan Rager
One of the Good Ones
Ain’t Like Me
All Out of Beer
Right Girl, Wrong Time
Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old
Reel (Real) Talk
Back Where I Come From
Setlist – Cody Johnson
I Ain’t Going Nowhere Baby
Half a Song
Ride With Me
Wild as You
Dance Her Home
Diamond in my Pocket
Gotta’ Be Me
The Way I Am (Merle Haggard cover)
The Only One I Know (Cowboy Life)
Cowboy Like Me
Me and My Kind
Never Go Home Again
Turn the Page (Bob Seger cover)