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The Seven Best Things We Saw at Kacey Musgraves’ Ryman Residency

Oh, what a wonderful concert...

The Seven Best Things We Saw at Kacey Musgraves’ Ryman Residency
Kacey Musgraves; Photo credit: Reid Long

After winning four GRAMMY® Awards, including the coveted trophy for Album of the Year, Kacey Musgraves spent four nights (Feb. 27 through Mar. 2) celebrating at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Musgraves left each evening’s sold-out audience in awe by playing all 13 tracks from Golden Hour, while also sprinkling in a few hits from previous efforts and welcoming some surprise guests along the way. While her string of consecutive performances at the Mother Church unveiled countless reasons why Golden Hour continues to receive acclaim, here are seven of the best things we saw at Musgraves’ brief Ryman residency on her Oh, What A World Tour:

1. The Openers
Instead of sticking to one consistent supporting act, Musgraves chose to highlight a different artist each night before she took the Ryman stage. Opening night featured Belmont alum Liza Anne, while multi-instrumentalist Sinclair kicked off Thursday night’s show with a pop set. Friday, all-female trio Mountain Man brought their sparse harmonies center stage. Meanwhile, Saturday showcased a double-header with the soulful sounds of Natalie Prass and a rare appearance by Skyline Motel, featuring vocalists Kate York and Sarah Buxton and band members Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk—the mastermind producers behind Golden Hour.

2. The Special Guests
Musgraves has lived in Music City long enough to know that no Ryman concert is complete without a few surprises. So in true Nashville fashion, she pulled out all the stops, while simultaneously proving her reach extends far beyond Country music. Paramore’s Hayley Williams joined Musgraves for a girl-powered rendition of the Cyndi Lauper classic “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Meanwhile, the Texas-native thrilled fans with an unorthodox collaboration with CeeLo Green for “Crazy.” Keeping with her Country roots, the singer invited Brooks & Dunn to accompany her on “Neon Moon.” In addition, her husband, singer/songwriter Ruston Kelly, also made a cameo with a fitting nod to Johnny and June.

3. The “Oh, What A World” Acoustic Version
The tour’s namesake came to life at the head of the stage as Musgraves’ band—clad in matching auburn suits and glittery shoes—gathered in close, surrounding the singer with a variety of stringed instruments for a short acoustic-driven portion. The vivid imagery of “Oh, What A World” swirled over gentle guitars, fluttering banjo and plaintive pedal steel that elicited one of the evening’s longest standing ovations.

Kacey Musgraves; Photo credit: Reid Long

Kacey Musgraves; Photo credit: Reid Long

4. The “Merry Go ‘Round” Singalong
While each night’s sold-out audience sang along to every word of every song from Golden Hour, the handful of performances from Musgraves’ catalog were embraced with equal enthusiasm. One of the concert’s most gratifying moments came when Musgraves sang a slow-burning version of her very first single, “Merry Go ‘Round,” reminding those gathered that songs about small town life translate universally when communicated by a lyricist as talented at Musgraves—one who’s not only written the lyrics, but lived them.

5. The “Love Is A Wild Thing” Truth Bomb
Before launching into Golden Hour’s triumphant “Love Is A Wild Thing,” Musgraves gave props to new husband Ruston Kelly for opening her heart in a way she never thought possible. She encouraged anyone on the brink of giving up on love to hang on. True love, she said, might just be right around the corner. Her impressive performance of “Love Is A Wild Thing” then organically grew from a simple ode reflecting on the places love lives to an electrifying retro pop gem that showcased the muscle of Musgraves’ six-piece band.

 

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6. The “Rainbow” Connection
Coming off the high of the night’s surprise guest appearance, Musgraves slowed things down with a tranquil version of her new single, “Rainbow.” Just as she originally recorded it, her pure vocals shone against the backdrop of a single piano and colorful lighting mimicking the track’s title. “Rainbow” showcased exactly what makes Musgraves a star. Her truth-filled lyrics were both relatable and comforting; while her gentle voice was as sterling as they come.

7. The “High Horse” Encore
While the majority of Musgraves’ set list was decidedly mellow, a few selections infused a vibrant pop energy into her performance, including the vivacious Golden Hour favorite, “High Horse.” Capping the night sans encore, Musgraves opted for a sparkly, sassy closer with the disco-lit track that had the audience singing and dancing in unison, ending the stunning evening on a high note.