SALT LAKE CITY — As Tim McGraw and Faith Hill sang the final notes of their hit duet “I Need You” during their encore, the audience of the newly renovated Vivint Arena roared. And as the couple walked off stage, it almost felt like the capacity crowd was applauding their 20-plus years of marriage as much as the show they had just performed.
Opening the night with a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," the husband-and-wife duo sang hit after hit (with a few new songs sprinkled throughout) for more than 90 minutes.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my wife, Mrs. McGraw,” Tim McGraw said during the first break before taking flack from his spouse for interrupting her welcome to the audience. McGraw responded by jokingly placing his microphone on the ground to show that it wouldn’t happen again. “Pick up your microphone boy, you’re not off work yet,” Hill said.
While Tim McGraw could just stand onstage and raise his arm in the air for the crowd to go wild, Hill was a ball of energy all night. There are about 18,300 seats in the newly renovated arena, but Hill managed to make every person in attendance feel special. Talking to the people in the highest seats in the house, Hill explained that her first-ever concert was Elvis Presley when she was a little girl in Jackson, Mississippi, and her seats were also in the nosebleeds.
McGraw and Hill may not have understood the full significance of the arena’s remodel, but it was not lost on the audience. Overheard in the bathroom was a conversation that went something like this: “Where are we?” “I don’t know, the Delta Center?!”
The home of the Utah Jazz was known as the Delta Center from 1991 to November 2006 and while it is still the same structure, the renovated arena no doubt feels like a different building. While there were still some issues with sound (the most glaring of which took place during the opening set of country singer Cam, the concert's opening act), the concert experience and ambiance within the concourse are certainly improved.
Much to the pleasure of the crowd was a duet of the couple’s 1997 hit “It’s Your Love,” set against a backdrop of their family photographs, including many of their three daughters. The couple was affectionate throughout, appearing to be very much still in love. Other highlights included “Mississippi Girl” and “Something Like That,” which brought both singers into the audience — an audience, McGraw said, that never disappoints.
“I’ve been playing this town for over 25 years and every time — every time — you kill it,” McGraw said.