This gig was a prime example of how the medias can effect an artist's pulling power. Since her appearance with her band at Whelans Kacey Musgraves has appeared at the Grammys and toured with Katy Perry. All of that, and more, means that Musgraves is playing to a full house at the Academy.
As such this is a bigger show and production, There's a painted cactus backdrop and several neon cacti adorn the stage. The band, in their Manuel style suits, arrive on stage to the strains of a Morricone western theme. The open the set with Silver Lining and then run through a 19 song set that included a four song encore.
Firstly kudos for the band's stylish suits, when most of the current crop of Nashville acts are doing their best to distance themselves from the sounds and looks of traditional country. It was also the first gig from a mainstream artist where you could actually hear the banjo and pedal steel in the mix. Recent touring with the likes of Katy Perry has given the show some cross-over polish and the rhythm section was as robust as you would expect these days in such circumstances. Overall though the band, fronted by guitarists Misa Arriaga and Kyle Ryan and including steel player Adam Ollendorff, did a good job of balancing the poppier elements with the more country ones.
The set largely drew from her Same Trailer, Different Park album as her new album has yet to see the light of day, but there were a scattering of new songs included. She introduced the first song of the encore as a new one, one that she felt would appeal to the audience on this side of the world. Cup Of Tea showed that she can hold the audience on her own with her voice and some accomplished guitar playing. Musgraves also played banjo and harmonica during the set. But it is her singing and writing skills that is her main accomplishment and her words fell on an appreciative audience who often sung along with her.
There were also a few covers mixed into the set, from her cover of TLC's No Scrubs, through to the hints of reggae in Step Off which became fully fledged as the song segued into Bob Marley's Three Little Birds with its immediately identifiable "every little thing gonna be alright" refrain. These Boots Were Made For Walking was the second encore and for it the band came back onstage and revealed that the rhinestones on the suits were actually LED flashing lights. Musgraves emerged then in a new pair of cowboy boots that were also adorned with flashing LEDs.
They closed the show with a touching acapella group harmony rendition of Happy Trails gathered around one microphone. This was after the crowd pleasing delivery of her best know song Broken Arrow. As is the case with many country styled artist she announced that she would be at the merch desk after the show to say hello and to sign product. A good end to what her fans would doubtless deemed a damn good evening out.
There were elements that I really liked, some that I didn't, but overall Musgrave's showed her herself a savvy and solid performer and one who I will be curious as to where she might take her musical direction next.
Review by Stephen Rapid Photography by Ronnie Norton