Since she toured the UK with Lady Antebellum as a relatively unknown artist in 2011, Kacey Musgraves has firmly established herself as one of the leading female talents in the world of country music. She has released 2 studio albums ‘Same Trailer Different Park’ and ‘Pageant Material’, both of which reached #1 on the US country albums chart and also performed well in the UK all-genre chart. The UK has become a regular stop for Kacey, and she is currently on the ‘Rhinestone Revue’ tour, visiting 6 cities. She will also perform on this year’s Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall.
I was lucky enough to attend Kacey’s sold-out show at The Institute in Birmingham on 10th November. The evening began with a wonderful set from Sugar and the Hi Lows, a band that admittedly I was not familiar with prior to the show. As opening acts go, they were up there with the best I have ever seen. Their energy-filled set really got the crowd going, and I was thoroughly impressed with the range of styles in their repertoire. One track in particular which stood out was ‘Right Time To Tell You’, a melodically beautiful song which is featured on their latest album, ‘High Roller’. It has the potential to be a big hit. They finished their set with the title track, ‘High Roller’, a dance-infused track with a very catchy chorus….it’s still stuck in my head now!
Soon after, Kacey took to the stage in true Kacey style, performing ‘Pageant Material’. The whole band wore pink outfits, surrounded by brightly lit stars, and Kacey wore her trademark cowgirl boots and a short pink dress – would we expect anything less from a Kacey gig? From the very first lyric, the whole crowd sang along, and Kacey acknowledged this by saying “it’s really cool how you guys really listen. You really appreciate the lyrics of every song”. Throughout the show, whether it was during her hit singles or just album tracks, there was a wonderful connection between artist and audience.
Kacey performed most of the new album, ‘Pageant Material’, as well as a number of tracks from ‘Same Trailer Different Park’. A few covers were also thrown in, including a rendition of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ which she been played on BBC Radio 2 back in June, and of course ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, a fan favourite which has been a consistent track in her set list right from the beginning of her career. Kacey also performed a cover of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, which I felt was superior to the original track (maybe I’m a little biased!).
There were a number of stand-out moments in the show. One of which which was Kacey’s stunning performance of ‘Fine’, which she said was “grandma’s favourite”. A video of this performance can be seen below. On this track, the slide guitar contributes so much to the beauty of the melody, and hearing this live was an absolute joy. Kacey’s voice here (as it was throughout the show) was so pure and almost identical to the studio version of the track. For me, this track not only showcases her incredible talent, but it also displays the quality of her song-writing. The track is so simple but equally so beautiful, and it provided a very special moment in the show that will live long in the memory.
Another memorable moment came when Kacey performed her debut single ‘Merry Go Round’ acoustically. She took us back in time, talking about the experience of going on tour here with Lady Antebellum a few years back, and how that gave her the platform to do her own shows soon after. ‘Merry Go Round’ is particularly special to loyal fans such as myself, as it was the beginning of her career as a musician, and it is always an emotional moment to see Kacey paying tribute to the people that have supported her right from the start. She performed the track beautifully, and you could hear a pin drop in the audience. We were all transfixed, totally in awe of Kacey’s talent. When you watch her performing solo like that, it really makes you appreciate why she has had so much success.
I also have to give credit to the band members, who (as always) sounded fantastic from start to finish, creating the raw country vibe which you have to go to a Kacey Musgraves show to experience. The use of slide guitars, fiddles and banjos sound incredible in a concert environment, and they enable the traditional country feel of Kacey’s studio albums to transfer seamlessly to her live show. The band also had the opportunity to showcase their vocal talents during the encore, which was an A capella performance of ‘Happy Trails’, Kacey’s way of saying “we’ll be back”.
When you watch Kacey live, it is not surprising that she has risen to success in the rate that she has. She certainly keeps it real and sticks to her country roots, despite the genre’s recent movement into a more pop-influenced style. Now that Chris Stapleton has dominated the CMA Awards with his raw country style, hopefully we will see a change in the genre and indeed a change in country radio, who seem to have an agenda against these real ‘country’ artists.
If you have the chance to see Kacey live, I would strongly encourage you to attend – you will not be disappointed. Hopefully her performance on the Royal Variety Show will enhance her UK fan base even further, and nobody deserves it more than Kacey.
Mama’s Broken Hart
Dime Store Cowgirl
Family Is Family
It Is What It Is
Somebody To Love
Merry Go Round
Late To The Party
Follow Your Arrow
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
Twitter – @Flatthead_Dan @LifeInASong_UK