Nearly a decade ago, Dierks Bentley was playing the Mane Stage at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in the bright sunlight just after another up-and-coming star named Taylor Swift. But on Friday, Bentley was the king of the festival as he headlined the opening night of the festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. We have photographic proof.
Before Bentley’s headlining set there were plenty of other notable performances, including sets from Cole Swindell and Elle King, who both joined Bentley during his show.
Long before Bentley took the Mane Stage, 19-year-old Bailey Bryan opened Stagecoach 2017 with songs off her brand new EP. Bryan told reporter Kelli Skye Fadroski about what it was like to play Stagecoach and what happened when she saw some fellow performers backstage.
Away from the Mane Stage, which draws the largest crowd at Stagecoach, there was a lot of really great music between upstarts and legends.
The highlight was easily Jerry Lee Lewis, the 81-year-old fiery rock ‘n’ roll pioneer who played to the Palomino tent at his Stagecoach debut. After being brought to the stage in a wheelchair, Lewis walked out with assistants flanking him. Wearing a white suit, Lewis sat down behind the glossy black Yamaha piano and played with verve. Early in the set, if you closed your eyes, you wouldn’t have thought he showed his age at all. And at the end of “Great Balls of Fire,” Lewis even did a leg kick.
The only disappointment was that he ended his set more than 20 minutes earlier than scheduled with a finale of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” As he stood up from the piano, he shooed away his assistants and with the aid of a cane, walked off the stage on his own while the crowd cheered, and then started chanting “Jerry! Jerry!” It was like an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show” without any punches being thrown.
Even more fans were on hand to see the Southern rockers in 38 Special deliver an hour of hits that included the rousing “Rockin Into the Night,” “Caught Up In You” and “Hold On Loosely” as well as ’80s adult contemporary ballad “Second Chance.”
Earlier in the day, The Zombies performed a harmony-laden stellar set that included newer material as well as classics such as “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season.” Singer Colin Blunstone introduced another track, “I Want You Back Again,” as a cover of Tom Petty’s cover of a Zombies song. The band also performed a cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” which might have made Stagecoach history as the first Motown cover.
Check out all of the photos of the performers from Friday.
Other highlights of the set included “Hold Your Head Up,” which became a hit for Argent, the band Zombies founder and keyboardist Rod Argent formed after the Zombies’ demise but was actually co-written by Argent and original Zombies bassist Chris White. While introducing the song, Argent said when people…