Alan Jackson knows his way around RodeoHouston. And he takes a no-fuss approach to what he's doing.
"We're here to play country music. I hope I play something y'all like tonight," he told the crowd Saturday at NRG Stadium.
That modesty is part of his appeal. He's humble and charming between songs and still seems in awe of his storied career. Jackson has released more than a dozen albums and earned more than two dozen No. 1 singles.
He's only the fifth entertainer to perform in front of 1 million RodeoHouston fans. He was inducted into the Star Trail of Fame in 2011.
His 22nd performance wasn't too different from previous shows. He coasted through a succession of familiar chart-toppers, including "Gone Country," "Livin' on Love," "Little Bitty" and "Drive (for Daddy Gene)."
His 9/11 tribute "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" is still a stirring standout. And he picked up the pace during "Don't Rock the Jukebox" and "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow" (one of his earliest singles).
"I appreciate them (RodeoHouston) keeping a little country music on the menu," Jackson quipped. This year's lineup includes rock act Fall Out Boy, pop star Ariana Grande, rapper Pitbull and assorted bro-country heartthrobs.
Jackson's voice has taken on a more grizzled quality over the years. It's reminiscent of George Jones on some songs and adds some depth to what he's doing.
He hasn't released a proper studio album since 2012 but promised something new later this year. He previewed it with "You Never Know," a rockabilly-flavored tune he likened to Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Jackson ended the show as he started, with a succession of hits that inspired tears ("Remember When") and two-stepping ("Chatahoochee"). It wasn't very surprising, but Jackson has earned the right to get a little comfortable.