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Review: Kelsea Ballerini Charms the Crowd on The First Time Tour [PICTURES]

From the second she stepped onto the stage in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday night (Dec. 3), Kelsea Ballerini had the sold-out crowd in the palm of her hand. The up-and-comer’s had an incredibly successful 2016, making history with her third-straight No. 1 song in September, so while it was impressive to see Ballerini command the audience during her The First Time Tour stop at the Town Ballroom, it wasn’t exactly surprising. She is a superstar on the rise, and her devoted fans are ready to follow her to the top.

Ballerini opened her set with a run of five songs from her debut album, from which her first-ever headlining tour takes its name; the crowd screamed along, and not just to her second No. 1 song, “Dibs.” Her light-up microphone stand was placed at center stage, but Ballerini wandered and worked the crowd: She knelt down to get on eye level with the fans in the front row, pointed out others in the audience and occasionally held out her mic to let the crowd sing lead — then rewarded them with the first of three new songs.

“A lot’s changed in my life in two years, and I’ve gotten to learn a lot …,” Ballerini told her fans before performing “Roses.” “One of the things I’ve learned is that life hardly ever happens how I think it’s going to.”

As she and two of her band members pulled stools to the front of the stage to perform another unreleased tune, “High School,” Ballerini confessed that she was “freaking out” — but not because of what was going on at the venue that night.

“I’m in the middle of my second album, and I’m insecure …,” the singer confessed, before noting, “You guys just wanna hear stories, and you just wanna hear the truth … I promise you, this next record will be bold.”

Snippets of “Tennessee Whiskey” and Adele‘s “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” dotted Ballerini’s set, as did James Bay‘s “Let It Go,” Justin Bieber‘s “Sorry” and OneRepublic‘s “Apologize.” The new “We Were Like,” the No. 1 “Peter Pan” and an electric “XO” had fans cheering for an encore — the first song of which (“First Time”), Ballerini delivered while standing in the crowd, to the left of the stage.

Ballerini promised “bells and whistles and production” for herĀ The First Time Tour, and, oh boy, did she deliver. Club stages aren’t particularly large, but she packed her setup with lights and video screens, and her final song of the night — “Love Me Like You Mean It,” naturally — had crew members tossing giant beach ball-like globes into the crowd as Ballerini and her band jammed out to say goodnight.

A handful of The First Time Tour dates remain on Ballerini’s calendar before the year-end holidays. Visit KelseaBallerini.com for more details.

NEXT: The Story of Kelsea Ballerini's 'Peter Pan'

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