It has been 10 years since superstar couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have taken their Soul2Soul Tour on the road, and Tuesday evening (Oct. 4), they gave fans a taste of the upcoming production at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
Billed as “Sam & Audrey,” a moniker taken from the couple’s full names (Samuel Timothy McGraw and Audrey Faith Perry), the show sold out in 12 minutes after tickets went on sale one day earlier.
After a video montage announced their upcoming world tour, the couple entered from opposite sides of the Ryman stage, performing their signature 1997 hit, “It’s Your Love” as the Ryman crowd, a mix of fans and industry members, jumped to its feet.
“We are going back on the road on tour!” said Hill. “We are going to go from side to side, south to north, all the way around the globe.”
“2017 we are going back on the road. We are going to do a Soul2Soul Tour. We’ve been waiting on this for a long time,” said McGraw.
“I feel so sentimental right now,” said Hill. “I feel like if I talk right now, I might cry.”
Hill let her supple, country-soul voice do the talking for her, as she ran through the night’s first solo set of hits including “This Kiss” and “Mississippi Girl” before proving she can do southern bluesy fare just fine with a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood.” Though Hill has been out of the spotlight for some time, she seemed rejuvenated during her set, cutting a striking figure as she worked both sides of the stage.
She returned to her catalog of hits with “Cry,” “Stronger,” and her debut single, a cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart,” which sounded more akin to Joplin’s original than Hill’s 1994 recording.
McGraw returned to the stage for the smoldering “Angry All The Time,” before taking his own solo turn with “Something Like That” and “Shotgun Rider.”
“I love my job! I flat out love my job,” he told the crowd. “Sometimes I’m good at it and sometimes I’m bad at it and sometimes I’m OK at it but I always love it,” before introducing his recent smash “Humble and Kind,” penned by ace songwriter Lori McKenna.
“There ain’t nothing in the world like a kickass song. If you don’t believe me try to write one,” McGraw told the crowd. The performance was a highlight of the superstar’s set, pairing a timeless song with an A-list performer and classic venue, and instantly bringing the Ryman crowd to its feet.
“You’re pretty good, Lori!” McGraw praised the songwriter as the crowd’s thunderous ovation shifted from the singer to the writer, who was in attendance. It was clear that top-shelf songwriters are still superstars in this town.
You only get to live one time so let’s live it up tonight, McGraw sang during “Here Tonight,” a track from Damn Country Music. Both McGraw and the crowd seemed to sense the incomparable, history-making event this Ryman show would be, and live it up they did, as the crowd sang along to each word. Screaming, crunching guitars ushered in a performance of “Real Good Man,” as McGraw wrung out the sensuality in each lyric as he swaggered from one end of the stage to the other.
Though separately, Hill and McGraw have more than solidified their superstar status in Nashville, their onstage chemistry becomes enchanting when they share the stage.
As performers, they balanced each other during “Like We Never Loved at All,” with Hill standing tall and arching back as she powered through the song’s money notes, poised by McGraw hunching low to the Ryman stage’s wooden floorboards for much of the song, as his gravelly baritone provided a solid undercurrent.
They followed with Bob Seger’s “ We’ve Got Tonight,” which Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton also covered in 1983. The powerful closing song brought the crowd to its feet once again, and they stayed there until the couple returned for a one-song encore.
Seated center stage, knee-to-knee and facing each other around a microphone, the McGraw and Hill seemed the only ones in the room as sang “I Need You” to one another, with Hill keeping rhythm with her right hand on McGraw’s leg.
The evening was a taste of the couple’s upcoming Soul2Soul 2017 tour, but judging by the Ryman show, it also proved that after 20 years together, this superstar couple has plenty of fire left in them, both musically and personally.
The Soul2Soul 2017 tour launches April 7 in New Orleans, and includes a Nashville date at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 4.
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