GIG REVIEW: Kacey Musgraves – Live At The SSE Arena, Wembley

Now, especially in the UK, Kacey Musgraves has quite the split in opinion. I’ve got to be honest, so soon after her headlining C2C appearance this year, I was rather sceptical about choosing this performance over the magnificent Zac Brown Band at BluesFest, in which most of the people I know were at. Thankfully, I was absolutely blown away by Kacey’s performance and found a whole new love for her latest album ‘Golden Hour’, which I was also quite sceptical about. I hear you asking, ‘Shannon, why on earth did you buy a ticket in the first place, if you haven’t liked her latest work?’ Well, I think Kacey Musgraves is one of the most talented artists/songwriters in the business today. I fell in love with her music at first listen all those years ago, and even though ‘Golden Hour’ isn’t my favourite of her records, it’s still an artistic masterpiece, which her ‘Oh, What A World Tour’ at Wembley Arena also was.

As Kacey took to the stage in a sparkling, rainbow jumpsuit (I mean, this is Kacey we’re talking about), she opened the show with album opener ‘Slow Burn’ and the crowd were silenced, only until the second verse, when instrumentation was introduced, added the adrenaline that would clearly not tire throughout the show. Kacey continued with an ever-impressive set, mixed with songs from her 2 previous albums ‘Same Trailer, Different Park’ and ‘Pageant Material’ and of course latest piece of work ‘Golden Hour’. The moment that drew me completely in, was when she sang first single ‘Merry Go Round’. Such a beautiful song, made even more beautiful when you listen to the lyrics and realise you’re surrounded by your own home-made country family.

Continuing with the entirety of the ‘Golden Hour’ album, one of the highlights for me was ‘Velvet Elvis’. Usually, Kacey has a guitar strapped to her front, so sometimes it’s quite nice to see her let loose! Kacey also showed her moves with a choreographed dance routine along with support act ‘Soccer Mommy’ to an NSYNC song ‘Tearin’ Up My Heart’ – yeah you heard that right! I’ve got to say this was one of the most adorable moments of the show; both acts are obviously very much musicians and not dancers (haha!) and you could see they had bonded throughout this tour, as their friendship was showcased on stage.

Getting back to what Kacey does best, as in the emotional, heartfelt tunes, take short album filler ‘Mother’. This is actually my favourite from the album; it’s literally a minute long, but wow, it makes such an impact. How can tears even come forth in such a short space of time? Yeah, I asked myself that. The lights went down during this moment, and Kacey’s voice echoed around the arena, as you could feel the electrical emotion from each individual in the room. It was a very special moment, way too short for my liking. Another special moment, which was a bit out of the ordinary, was when Musgraves brought the gorgeous voice of Tom Chaplin from Keane to the stage to sing ‘Somewhere Only We Know.’ Kacey had very recently covered this song for Radio 2, but whoa, Chaplin’s voice paired with Kacey’s soprano harmony was something else. Everyone had their phones out capturing a moment that may never happen again.

As the end of the night began to near, Kacey sang the gut-wrenching ‘Rainbow’. Just as it sturdily holds its place on the record, this song stole the whole night for me. I was hypnotised by every aspect of the stripped-back, bare performance; the piano, pedal steel and of course Kacey’s warm, unforgettable vocal. During this song, it allowed me to reflect on the night and Kacey’s stance in country music as a whole; she really is a front runner in every sense. Her songwriting is intricate, her performance is inclusive and her creative and musical mind is clearly very, very informed, as the difference in each of her albums still remains coherent to Kacey Musgraves as an artist. Kacey is herself, and she’s not afraid to shy away from that. I do think she perhaps is a bit like marmite, you either love her or hate her, but I think especially over here in the UK, some of us need to give her another chance. She is a true talent, and this said talent shines just like a ‘rainbow’.

Shannon Hynes
@S_HynesMusic