Chris Stapleton brought his All American Road Show to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Friday evening (Oct. 13) with openers Brothers Osborne and Brent Cobb for the first of two sold-out shows and he more than delivered. The often shy and soft spoken singer commanded the stage for a two-hour set that had him talking frequently with the audience and sharing some of the stories behind his songs. He also announced that his next album, From A Room: Volume 2, will be released on Dec. 1 much to the delight of his fans.
Two songs into his set, Stapleton addressed the mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, offering hope and light to country fans as he dedicated “Broken Halos” to the victims of the massacre. “Thank you for being with us here tonight. Last week was a pretty bad week for country music,” he said as he discussed the shooting in Las Vegas. “This next song I’m going to do for them.”
He followed the poignant “Broken Halos” with a cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly,” telling the sold-out crowd that the late rocker was a hero of his. In fact, Stapleton had previously shared the stage with Petty and said the last thing Petty ever said to him was that he hoped the two would get to perform together again.
“I’m so sad I’m not going to get to do that,” Stapleton confessed before launching into a powerful cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 1991 hit “Learning to Fly.”
Well aware of the heavy emotions at his concert having mentioned Las Vegas and the death of Petty, Stapleton broke some uplifting news to his fans, too. “I’ve got some good news,” he said after his Petty cover. “We got a record coming out called From A Room: Volume 2 on December 1. Among other things, you might hear this on it.”
He then segued into a rousing rendition of “Midnight Train to Memphis” which he previously performed and recorded with The SteelDrivers. Stapleton put his unique spin on the bluegrass song adding plenty of electric guitar riffs and his soulful howl. Later, his band left the stage while he played “Whiskey and You” solo. A song that Tim McGraw and Texas artist Jason Eady recorded that he said he’s been playing for a long time, Stapleton said he wanted to perform “Whiskey and You” like the day he cut it.
Additional highlights throughout his set included the heartbreaking ballad “Either Way,” complete with a mesmerizing guitar interlude and “Traveller,” in which he shared that the lyrics came to him while on a road trip shortly after his father died. Later, on the powerful “Fire Away,” he asked the audience to sing along on the final chorus. “Sing this chorus so loud it drowns out all the hate in the world,” he urged.
While Stapleton’s impressive guitar playing and deep vocals struck a chord on every song, it was his confidence on the arena stage that was most evident. During previous tours and headlining sets the singer rarely spoke to the audience, instead letting his music do the talking. On Friday, he was extremely personable — offering happy birthday wishes to a fan in the front row, saying I love you when another fan screamed it from the crowd and sharing the gratitude he had to be headlining Bridgestone Arena.
“I’ve watched many shows in this place. When I first came to town I got a scalped ticket outside for Fleetwood Mac,” he confessed. “I saw Paul McCartney in here, Tom Petty in here. I never ever dreamed I’d be playing here. Thank you for being here tonight.”
Brothers Osborne opened the show and performed a rousing 45-minute set that showcased the duo’s staying power and likelihood that they’ll be headlining Bridgestone Arena in the not so distant future. After powering through fan favorites like “Down Home,” “Rum” and “Greener Pastures,” guitarist John Osborne had the audience entranced during a guitar solo of “Amazing Grace” before the band launched into previous single “21 Summer.” It was a memorable moment that lasted long after the song ended.
The duo then performed an energetic cover of the Osborne Brothers’ “Rocky Top,” explaining the origin of the order of their own band name thanks to the band that came before them. Later, Lucie Silvas would join them for a stirring performance of “Loving Me Back” before the set’s final one-two punch in the form of No. 1 single “Stay A Little Longer” and the energetic “Ain’t My Fault.”