By Newsweek |
Review: Oh, What A Tour: Kacey Musgraves Ends U.S. Leg In Joyous Chicago Celebration
To understand what to expect at a Kacey Musgraves show, you must first understand a few things. First, she’s released a Grammy Album of the Year-winning album, Golden Hour, that creates its own immersive, colorful world. As her latest release, it’s expected to sit front and center with its very feeling the essence of the show. And though the album is a mix of genres—Musgraves was born in the country genre, but Golden Hour borders on indie, soft pop or even folk—Musgraves has not abandoned her country roots in the slightest.
Known for being a rebellious, acid-tripping ringleader, Musgraves asked the historic Chicago Theatre audience to high five their neighbors and stick their middle fingers in the air before she jumped into the meat of her 20-song set.
Perhaps, unlike what one would expect from a recent Album of the Year winner, the drama of the show was subdued. With just a few, simple, smart set changes to enhance the mood, and relocation of her band throughout, Musgraves performed what felt more like a hometown, small set than a show to wow a 3,600 capacity audience. Leading with that concept, Musgraves rarely without a guitar, made the setting feel intimate and small with strategic charisma and placement. For a few songs in the middle of the set, which Musgraves performed with a group of string instruments, her band moved close to the center of the stage as if the venue were three times as small. That thoughtful design that made the theatre feel like a living room.
Kacey Musgraves performs on stage at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on FOX at Microsoft Theater on March 14, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. Musgraves ended the U.S. leg of her tour in Chicago on Monday. Rich Fury/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Past the music, which Musgraves designed nearly identically to her award-winning album with a few, appreciated twists, Musgraves proved to be a welcoming, comical host. The country artist showcased her people skills by spending minutes long between songs telling stories. From how she met her husband, musician Ruston Kelly—who joined her on stage to sing their rendition of Johnny Cash poem "To June This Morning", and joke about the Forensic Files binge they’d been on all day—to thanking the Chicago crowd for accepting her polar vortex cancellation in January so the whole city would live, Musgraves acted as if she was speaking with a few close friends who already knew her life, her heart and everything she stands for.
It’s that expression that carried throughout the show. Musgraves doesn’t need to pretend to be anything she’s not, and it’s clear she thinks that, too. She brought the songs that captivated her audience to life, thanking them for allowing her to grow in genre, past her country roots, into the massive success Golden Hour has become. And though the wildly impressive album was represented gracefully, Musgraves slipped in a few odes to her country roots, like fan favorites "Die Fun" and "Family Is Family," which show exactly where Musgraves came from, down to the sound and the wild, family that’s doing “mostly illegal” things she opened up about.
Behind the dreamy, reflective state of Golden Hour is a small town, country girl at heart. And though her first moments on the stage in a large, fluffy coat and mini-dress show her glam, it didn’t take long before fans were able to see the side of Musgraves she swore to never forget is still loud, proud and weaved into everything she does.