Last night in Gateshead I had the pleasure of checking out Kacey Musgraves Oh, What A World Tour for the second time, this time in an official capacity... as press. I’ve been a fan of Kacey’s for a long time and have seen her perform both here on multiple occasions and in the States but in the past year or so she seems to have become slightly more reserved on stage and even in York last week she seemed quieter than when she toured back in 2015. However last night was different, she seemed to enjoy herself, she danced more and chatted to the crowd more in between songs and when she didn’t talk between songs it was because of the way the show had been designed. There are a few points to highlight though, the first being that she played every song from the latest record which is quite unusual.
She started off with the album opener Slow Burn, she was stood on a platform at the back with the three giant fans splayed out behind her. She was in what appeared to be black glittery trousers and a black top and the band tonight were dressed in black suits. I’ve always liked how Kacey’s band are coordinated, in York they were in dark pink suits! After the first song she came down off the riser to another microphone that was waiting for her and she proceeded to play Wonder Woman. After this she addressed the sold out crowd and marvelled at that fact, that they’d sold the three tiered Sage one concert hall out! She continued to play Butterflies which appeared to be a fan favourite and it was here I noticed just how flawless her vocals were. The Sage is one of my favourite venues in the UK for two reasons, the sound is perfect, both halls are so well designed and the engineers know how to get the best out of the artist and the room and the second reason is the staff who bend over backwards for the artists, journalists and most importantly the fans.
She continued with the new material as she played Lonely Weekend, it was interesting to see the new album live as banjos and steel guitar were fused together with drum machines and the odd synth here and there. And there were new arrangements of old songs as well, one of my favourites off the first record Keep it to Yourself was at first unrecognisable as they’d revamped the intro but I liked it and it flowed easily along in between the newer stuff. Similarly the Grammy award winning Merry Go Round also got a makeover which went down really well with the crowd and Kacey talked about growing up in a small town but how the song probably translates to most towns. She went to her second album then and played High Time which the crowd joined in with when Kacey held out the mic to them.
The title track of the new album Golden Hour followed and throughout the show she mentioned her husband Ruston Kelly and how her life had changed since she last toured here. Then she played Die Fun which I loved but what was most impressive about this song was the well planned out ending which was extended whilst Kacey exited the stage and the band all walked up to the higher platform and the crew set up for the next part of the show. Then most of the band downed their instruments as Kacey appeared back on the upper platform of the stage to sing Mother. By the end of this short song the band had reassembled all together in a semi circle to play a series of stripped back songs. This set started with Oh, What a World which worked really well stripped back with the cello and double bass. Kacey then went on to introduce each member of the band and told us a fun fact about each one and as we applauded, the rest of the band played a theme tune for each one, like The Simpsons. She thanked all her crew and her band family before they broke into Family is Family in which the drummer played the wooden spoons.
The more intimate setup continued as they performed It Is What It Is from her first record. Then she talked about how scary the World is, particularly America, her speech in York fitted the word Trump in it as she said “love trumps hate” with a wink! She then proceeded to play Love is a Wild Thing. It was during this song that the band returned to their primary instruments and positions and it was so well done that you didn’t even notice the transition. Then she kept up her long running joke with the fans “when I say yee you say haw” and held out the mic as she got everyone involved before breaking out into one of my favourites off the last record Velvet Elvis. She then once again spoke of her relationship and also about how the New Years countdown makes her cry and she began to play Happy and Sad, a sentiment not often addressed but which is relatable. It was nearing the end of her set as she played another one of the new singles off the record and another favourite of mine Space Cowboy, her vocals soared in this one! She concluded with Follow Your Arrow which everyone was singing and clapping along too. She and the band came together then to take their bows and thank the audience who was up on their feet.
Of course it wasn’t quite over though and after much applause and hollering she returned, commenting that she had been planning to get in her pyjamas until she heard us shouting. She sat on a stool as her pianist played the closing song of her album Rainbow. Then she brought the band out and Soccer Mommy for a cover of Tearin Up My Heart which was a complete contrast to the song before as it was of course more of a disco tune. Then she insisted that this was going to be the last song and played the crossover single High Horse which has received much radio play over here on mainstream stations, it was a fantastic ending and many were dancing including Kacey throughout this finale!
I adore Kacey’s music but recently have been worried about her live performance, fearing the star had lost her love for it however last night in the Sage I realised how wrong I was. Kacey still knows how to put on a great show for her fans, her voice is still as flawless as ever and most importantly she seemed happy and full of life up on that stage. It was one of the shows of the year!