Kacey Musgraves Sets New Record at Tour-Closing Nashville Show
Kacey Musgraves referred to her tour-ending Nashville show at the Bridgestone Arena on Friday night (Oct. 25) as a "victory lap," and wow, what a victory it was.
Musgraves wrapped the North American leg of her Oh, What a World Tour II in Music City with a sold-out show that drew a record crowd of 18,373, marking the largest attendance for any show by a female artist from any genre at the Bridgestone.
Musgraves told the fired-up hometown crowd that the moment felt like "one gigantic victory lap of sorts," and her appreciation for the fans seemed genuine as she added, "And of course, I could never have had this much love and positivity coming out with this record without you guys."
The record she was referring to was 2018's Golden Hour, which marked a transition away from rootsy country and into a hybrid of country, acoustic pop, adult contemporary and more. The critical and commercial success of that album helped Musgraves launch her first headlining arena tour, and Friday night's show marked the end of that chapter in North America. She celebrated by performing all 13 of the tracks from Golden Hour, as well as two tracks each from Same Trailer, Different Park and Pageant Material. "Merry Go 'Round" and "Follow Your Arrow" were highlights from the former, while Musgraves showcased "High Time" and "Family Is Family" from the latter.
If there was an award for Most Improved Performer, Musgraves would surely win it. Always good musically, earlier in her career she seemed to struggle to feel comfortable on larger stages. Friday night's show revealed a performer who has come completely into her own. Musgraves commanded the massive audience with total ease, using a subtle hand gesture and body language here and there to punctuate her performance, but relying heavily on an elaborate visual presentation complete with lasers and video backgrounds to keep the show entertaining as she and her ace band offered up one perfectly-written, perfectly-arranged song after another. "Slow Burn," "Butterflies," "High Time" and "Love Is a Wild Thing" were among the many highlights, but the moment when she got the entire arena to sing along with the chorus of "Rainbow" was probably the emotional high point of the night.
She also livened the set up with a cover of Whitney Houston' "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," joined by her opening act, Maggie Rogers. But Musgraves saved the biggest surprise of the evening for next-to-last, when Harry Styles stunned the crowd by joining her on stage to duet on "Space Cowboy" in a moment that earned a massively loud, sustained ovation. She closed the set on an energetic note with "High Horse."
Musgraves' fans were so active that they were almost as important to the show as the music and the performance itself. Her sort of Everywoman appeal is part of the secret to how she's built such a massive career with so relatively little radio airplay, and that was certainly in evidence on Friday night. The feeling of goodwill from the audience toward her was almost palpable before she even started playing, and it continued unabated throughout every song, with fans singing every word to every song in the set as if they were singing passages from their own diaries.
Musgraves still remains a true singer-songwriter at heart, and the songs she performed from behind her guitar provided many of the highlights of the evening. But she's at her most vulnerable when she comes out from behind the guitar to sing a slow, aching ballad, and those were the moments when her audience were more than willing to carry her along on the breeze of their positive vibes.
That was the real magic of the night. Musgraves offered up a set that was part celebration, part solace for the difficulties of the outside world, giving a joyful respite to a crowd that seemed eager to give it right back to her. And Oh, What a World it was, indeed.
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