George Strait on Playing the 2022 Rodeo Houston Finale: ‘A Night to Remember’

by Suzanne Halliburton

George Strait still is relishing his time on stage Sunday at the Houston rodeo. The King of Country proved to be the perfect finale for an event that had been on ice for two years because of the pandemic.

Strait posted a snapshot from his RodeoHouston performance at NRG Stadium, which is normally the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans.

He captioned the photo: “RodeoHouston finale was a night to remember! Sending a HUGE thank you to all the fans for an incredible weekend!”

The last time George Strait played the Houston rodeo was 2019. But he’s basically a mainstay, with 31 appearances. Three years ago, Strait’s show drew a rodeo-record crowd of 80,108 fans. His special guests were fellow Texans Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett.

On Sunday night, more than 79,000 fans gathered to listen and dance to Strait’s music. He didn’t top his own record, but he did attract the biggest crowd of the three-week-long rodeo. Strait played 29 songs over two hours. Twenty of the tunes were from his 2019 show. That’s obviously what fans wanted. Strait’s music is akin to your favorite comfort food.

Ashley McBryde opened for Strait.

The King of Country shunned taking his customary truck ride to the stage. Instead, he walked briskly from the tunnel to the delight of the crowd. After performing two of his classics, Strait finally acknowledged everyone:

“Hello Houston!” Strait bellowed. And when he heard the collective roar back, he said: “Oh that sounds, good.”

Strait also paid tribute to first responders with the song “The Weight of the Badge” from the 2019 Honky Tonk Time Machine. As he sang, the stadium’s huge video screen flashed photos of the Houston Police Department and Houston Fire Department.

Later in the show, Strait told the crowd: “I’ve been asked a lot what my favorite song is. Do you know what it is?” Here’s a hint. Strait sang “Amarillo By Morning.”

Then he introduced what he called his second or third-favorite song. That was “The Chair.” He ended the set by going way back, performing “Unwound,” his first big hit. He started walking towards the tunnel as the crowd cheered for more country comfort music. So Strait happily obliged with a Lone Star flavor. He went from “All My Exes Live In Texas” to “Take Me to Texas.” And he finished an incredible show with “The Cowboy Rides Away.”

Those who love attending RodeoHouston celebrated its grand return. The rodeo was in the midst of its run in March, 2020, when it had to shut down because of Covid. Organizers had to cancel the 2021 event.

The 2022 lineup was chock full of heavyweights across multiple music genres. Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Maren Morris all did shows. Then the three weeks ended with a flourish with Gwen Stefani, Chris Stapleton and Brad Paisley.

Strait’s next big show will be with Willie Nelson in Austin April 29 and 30th.