On Wednesday evening (Feb. 27), Kacey Musgraves brought her Oh, What A World Tour to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (the first of four consecutive sold-out Ryman concerts for her this week). The concert served as a triumphant homecoming for the UMG Nashville-signed singer, who recently took home the coveted all-genre Album of the Year Grammy award for her sterling Golden Hour project.
The show marked Musgraves’ first show in Nashville following her Grammy trophy gatherings, where she also took home three additional awards including Best Country Album (also Golden Hour), while two tracks from that project also earned awards—“Space Cowboy” for Best Country Song, and “Butterflies” for Best Country Solo Performance.
Musgraves came prepared to celebrate that sterling project at the Ryman, with the majority of the set list drawn from Golden Hour. She opened the show, resplendent in a bubblegum-pink pantsuit, with “Slow Burn,” before turning to the lush, ‘70s country-pop of “Wonder Woman.” She would revisit those sultry accents in her rendition of “Velvet Elvis.”
“I’ve missed home a lot,” Musgraves said. “I know this place can be fancy. You are sitting in church pews, but that don’t matter tonight.” She said, and later spurred the audience members to give each other high fives and throw their middle fingers in the air all around the historic venue.
Though she dubbed herself “Spacey Kacey,” Musgraves held court that evening, as her warm and transcendent voice, paired with her engrossing musical repertoire and her whimsical attire, evoked the flair of essence of country’s revered performers and song crafters like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. In a nod to Golden Hour’s album cover, large fans provided an larger-than-life, yet understated backdrop.
All perfectly fitting, given that it was at the Ryman Auditorium when Musgraves first introduced radio programmers to her debut single, “Merry Go ‘Round” back in 2012. During this evening’s show, Musgraves scarcely needed to even sing her sharp-witted criticism of small-town short-comings, as the audience gleefully—and, this being Nashville, in perfect unison—sang the lyrics back to her.
“Are y’all a bunch of singers?” she quipped.
Musgraves peppered her performance with such canny quips.
“Is weed not legal here yet?” she said, following a performance of “High Time.”
Her silky voice consistently brings a sense of contentment and even destiny in equal measure to both life’s wonders (“Oh, What A World,” which earned her a standing ovation) and disappointments (the zen romantic farewell of “Space Cowboy”).
The Texas native reflected on a couple additional high-profile appearances, including presenting an award at the Oscars, and a performance at RodeoHouston. Her spin at the revered Texas venue included both a cover of the late Selena Quintanilla’s “Como La Flor,” and a fitting conclusion to the show, riding off from the stage on a horse when ending the show with “High Horse.”
“I’ve never seen such Texan shit in my life, and I’m from Texas,” she told the Ryman crowd.
She thanked the Music City audience, which included several music industry execs. “Nashville has had a lot to do with that,” she said.
She welcomed husband and fellow musician Ruston Kelly to the stage, telling the crowd how they met.
“It’s sickeningly Nashville,” she said. “We met at the Bluebird [Café]. I went by myself and sat at the bar and I heard him sing.”
The pair performed “To June This Morning,” a track from the album Johnny Cash: Forever Words, setting their own musical arrangements to words Cash penned as a poem to his wife June Carter Cash in early 1970, while she was pregnant with their son John Carter Cash.
The tempo lifted as Musgraves welcomed Paramore’s Hayley Williams to the stage for a fun harmony-filled frolic on Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”
She neared the close of her set with a couplet of uplifting, comforting tracks.
“Country music hasn’t always been the most inclusive of environments, but not anymore,” she remarked, to the cheers of the audience.
She emphasized that statement with her 2013 hit, “Follow Your Arrow,” which earned a CMA Award for Song of the Year from Nashville’s music industry voters, and “Rainbow,” the calm, soul-reviving piece she offered during the recent Grammy awards. The peacefulness of “Rainbow” stirred into freedom and merriment as the show closed on her disco and western music-infusion “High Horse,” where she swayed along with the audience while her band members threw plastic balls into the audience, turning the revered, historic Ryman Auditorium into a shimmering, golden dance party.
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