Country star returns after shooting on patriotic note

Jason Aldean, whose headlining set at a country music festival in Las Vegas turned into a massacre, has resumed touring with an appeal to patriotism and US unity.

The singer was two songs into his concert Thursday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he paid tribute to the 58 people gunned down on October 1 by a local man who had amassed an arsenal in a hotel room overhead.

Aldean, whose music often speaks of “forgotten” Americans in rural areas, told the crowd to cheers: “Even though sometimes the United States may seem really divided, we seem like we’re fighting with each other, at the end of the day this is the best country in the world.”

Hailing the “love and support” since the shooting, he said, according to footage posted by fans: “I just feel like if we can do that on a daily basis, then the world will be a lot better place.”

“These people are going to continue to try to hold us down,” Aldean said, voicing hope that Americans will still go about their lives including going to concerts.

Saying that he had always wanted to give fans “a chance to forget about daily problems,” Aldean said he would not be “a downer” and played a full concert featuring his hits.

Aldean has repeatedly voiced dismay at the carnage but steered clear of discussion on gun control and other political issues since the shooting, which was the deadliest in modern US history.

The country music star called off several concerts after the attack but appeared on nationally televised “Saturday Night Live” to play “I Won’t Back Down,” the anthem of defiance by Tom Petty, who died last week of cardiac arrest.

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