Review: Chris Stapleton Gives Nashville an All-American Road Show
When you're attending a concert given by an artist who has won two Grammys, six ACMs and five CMAs, and written a bunch of hit songs (for himself and others), you might expect to be just a little underwhelmed. After all, when the bar is set that high, it's hard to believe the artist can live up to the hype night after night on the road.
Chris Stapleton, though, managed to meet -- and exceed -- expectations during the second night of his two-night run at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. On Saturday evening (Oct. 14), the singer-songwriter blew the fans packed into the 20,000-seat venue away. His set included big hits, and a surprise guest, but the sum was even greater than its parts -- simply put, an unforgettable and amazing night of country ... and, in many ways, a good old-fashioned rock concert.
In the first moments of the show, reverb bounced off the stage and arena walls so loudly it seemed like a mistake. It wasn't, of course -- it was meant to get the crowd ready for perfectly performed songs, sing-a-longs so loud that the crowd almost drowned out Stapleton himself and sprawling jam sessions that left fans' mouths open in amazement.
There were at least a dozen moments of magic during Stapleton's nearly two-hour set, including a touching tribute to those affected by the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nev., on Oct. 1. Stapleton dedicated his performance of "Broken Halos" to the victims of the tragedy and their families, bringing a new level of depth and heartache to the song he originally penned after the death of a friend. Songs such as "When the Stars Come Out" and "Whiskey and You," too, were quiet moments in a night of otherwise uproarious "hillbilly music," as Stapleton called it before the start of "Hard Living."
Chris Stapleton's Best Live Shots
In fact, "Whiskey and You" was the only song that featured Stapleton onstage, alone, backlit by his jaw-dropping stage design; he brought the sold-out crowd to near silence with his haunting vocals and the song's simple guitar melody. The rest of the show saw Stapleton surrounded by his small but oh-so mighty band, not least of which is his wife Morgane.
In many ways, Morgane Stapleton is as equal of a force onstage, bringing energy and a grounding sense of place to her husband every time he looks to his left. And, of course, her vocals are incredible. While she seems more than happy with the supporting role she generally plays for her husband, she just about upstaged him during their duet on “You Are My Sunshine.”
In concert, every song reveals a different side of Stapleton's talents: The funky melody of "Death Row" allows his guitar mastery to shine, while "Outlaw State of Mind" and "Them Stems" add that "good-old country-and-western shuffle" to the mix. On Saturday night, he opened "The Devil Named Music" with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird," and he ended "Fire Away" by stepping back from the microphone and asking the crowd to sing the chorus back to him "so loud that we drown out the the pain and hate in this world." Stapleton even brought a little something for fans of his SteelDrivers days: A particularly rocking rendition of "Midnight to Memphis" ended in an epic jam session.
There was also a surprise appearance from actor Chris Pratt. Although it might have seemed a random choice to bring the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic Park star onstage, Stapleton and Pratt are mutual fans of each other: Earlier this year, Pratt mentioned his admiration for Stapleton in multiple interviews, leading Stapleton to send his fellow Chris a customized mixtape of From A Room: Volume 1. While some fans might have been hoping that Justin Timberlake would repay the favor after Stapleton made a surprise drop-in during his headlining set at the 2017 Pilgrimage Festival, Pratt held his own singing "Tennessee Whiskey."
Watch Chris Pratt and Chris Stapleton Sing "Tennessee Whiskey" in Nashville
Unforgettable Chris Stapleton Moments