They should have known, but now we all do: Luke Bryan can't even one-up himself.
A couple got engaged during his sold-out show Saturday night at AT&T Stadium, and it turned into an afterthought.
But Bryan had tried to one-up himself before that. He performed — and drank tequila — with Little Big Town, one of the night's opening acts and a "super group" in their own right. They did a bawdy medley of Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On."
In fact, Bryan brought all his rowdy friends back out to play. There was a playful cover of Brooks and Dunn's "Play Something Country" with Dustin Lynch, who kicked off the night. And a melancholy "Drink a Beer," with the outstanding Chris Stapleton. ("He can siiiing," said one person in awe.)
He even ceded the stage for a few minutes to Ethan, a 13-year-old boy with a Make-A-Wish badge on he had just met at a meet and greet. According to Bryan, the teenager played one of his songs for him "and he does it perfectly." So, they jammed on stage for about 10 minutes in front of at least 50,000 people, including a darn fine "Here's to the Farmer."
The teenager's poise blew Luke away. "Aren't you nervous," he asked. The boy just played on. Sweet, the very definition of memorable, but perhaps still the second thought.
Bryan's altruism is a well-known fact. He just got off his almost decade-old "Farm Tour," in which part of the proceeds fund scholarships for a farm student from each stop.
But the singer can't help it. Folks in section C-111 just wanted more of him and loved every minute of the show. Well, everything but a lackluster "Roller Coaster," which, along with all the beer consumed, just sent folks looking for the potty.
Really: This is a guy who began his show with fireworks, triumphant even before he hit the stage. (Very hip-pop of him.) His ad for 32 Bridge, his branded line of clothing at Cabela's, was greeted with the types of cheers usually reserved for performers themselves.
Those who posit theories and ascribe the label of bro country to Luke Bryan seem to have done so on subject matter alone. Yes, he sings about girling, drinking and trucking, not necessarily in that order. But, like R&B's Usher Raymond, his lyrics consist of words that women have always wished someone would say to them, and words men have always wanted to hear from a pal.
From "Move," it was the plea of "Love me like you loved me when you didn't have to try." The title alone for "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day," one of the truest love songs ever made, elicits sighs from down-South Georgia boys (not necessarily the rap group).
Anyone watching the screaming throng gets it: Almost every song brought heartfelt yells that might have well just said "Amen." I sense shade.
The couple even got engaged during "Play It Again." What are the chances that the song will do just that at their wedding?
In the end, even with everyone's best efforts — and that includes Bryan's — he was still the brightest star in the stadium. Was there something missing? Always. But Bryan's charm is disarming. Stapleton might have that voice, but what Bryan has is a star-shaped, disco ball of a heart a la Garth Brooks. The all-everything, multiple award-winning singer must know it, balling up all that energy and charisma and sailing through a cover of Brooks' "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)."
More than a few folks around me and via text were a little perturbed by the cameraman, who kept things G-rated even as Bryan strutted, gyrated and hip-swiveled; I swear there was a tiny twerk in there. But more than those just got their wish: Luke Bryan live, now with more songs.
"It was so electrifying I might have my fifth child tonight," yelled Matt in section C-111, seat 17 as he was leaving. "Thanks, Luke!"
Bryan inspires talking back to the screen, much like an action film. Except he talks back.
"I want to thank each and every one of you for making this dream come true," he said. "How could this Georgia boy imagine selling out the home of the Dallas Cowboys?"
Four songs in, he had grabbed the crowd's attention with "I See You" and kept minds from wondering about how much they had paid for parking with the night-ending, energetic "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)." You know, just a little earworm for the road.
He kept people from wandering to the parking lot, too, to make the long trek to the cars to beat the traffic. The audience just didn't want to leave, including Luke; he took almost five minutes to exit the stage. This Luke's superpowers will be in full effect for a long time.
And there's no kryptonite in sight.