Chris Stapleton, a man who in an era of bro country is a breath of the old school I imagine when Merle and other were in their hay day. A man that when I saw photos and video of him before ever laying eyes on him made me think now there is a well traveled soul. Appropriately his breakout album was named just that, and it’s accurate to the core. Ya wanna hug the man as much as pull up a barstool and crack jokes because he’s a truly genuine human. At the AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minnesota of all places, I got to witness those hunches in the flesh and he’s the real deal.
Now before anyone in reading this derails into isn’t that the bearded guy who sings that David Allen Coe/George Jones song?. Yea. He does. But he also made the original writer of Tennessee Whiskey comment recently that Stapleton gave the song new life all its own. Chris entered the arena stage just as anyone may have imagined. Cool, calm, and awesome. Opening his set for the night Stapleton jumped right into Might As Well Get Stoned. A hilarious choice of song being I just covered a block party where the ongoing theme was said activity, but I’m off topic. The crowd no shock loved this opening song and if Margo Price hadn’t woke everyone already, Stapleton did right then.
A brief timeout before covering the next few songs in the night, if you’ll permit. I have never step foot in AMSOIL Arena before in my life. Maybe because it’s two hours from home, maybe because I’m a gopher alumni, ski u mah!, or I haven’t been into the shows I’ve seen listed. Whatever my reasons I give credit to the sound crew and staff at the arena. The sounds for Margo and Stapleton was solid and never felt like any part of the vocals or band members was being drowned out or to overpowered. And back to our regularly scheduled review.On deck for Stapleton set for the night was Nobody to Blame, Them Stems, and Death Row. There were others but when you’re running on three hours sleep and drive two hours after work because you just have to see a band, some things slip. Apologies all. Admittedly I am. Not fond of any of these songs in studio. Solid as they may be I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy them. But maybe sleep deprivation opened my mind to another side of things because I found them all very enjoyable as Stapleton and the band cruised along.
No, this wasn’t the time in the show when Tennessee Whiskey came I am sorry to say. Patience everyone. However, Stapleton did choose one of his more melancholy drinking songs to slow things down for a moment with Whiskey and You. It’s not a song that I noticed the first run through Stapleton’s Traveller album, but it grows on you make no doubt. To solve any slow down in a show, or a whiskey drinking memory pain, you need to get things jumping again. Parachute and Broken Halos came a few songs later. And yet again the crowd at AMSOIL went into madness.
Everyone who listens to any country has at one time or many heard Stapleton’s voice, Parachute is one of those songs that for reasons I cannot grasp just goes less noticed. It’s a boot stomping sing along and shows Stapleton’s signature powerhouse raspy voice. Only struggle with this sign along though is I myself couldn’t make out all the words for a while. Which in the chorus are. You need only need a roof when it’s raining. You need only need a fire when it’s cold…I definitely messed those up in my daily car karaoke. If you don’t know Parachute, add it to your playlist pronto. The remainder of Stapleton’s set was a mix of southern inspired covers and a focus on his first album including Fire Away and The Devil Named Music. Both were a great choice for me as the band began easing the crowd into the traditional “the show is over, Oh, SURPRISE, Encore!” mood.
Through the show I was blown away by the band as a whole I won’t pretend I expected them to be as solid as they were. Not to mention that Stapleton is one of the most casual “I’ll just rip up this quick riff for you all” guitarists I have seen lately. But, what got me in the end most of all was hearing Either Way live. Stapleton has a set of pipes, nobody can deny, but the acoustic encore was nothing short of jaw dropping. Hearing the arena echo the words “We can just go on like this. Or say the word, we’ll call it quits” was chilling. I don’t often enjoy a quiet song choice to end a concert. But I think I can now consider myself heavily swayed on that position. If you have never seen Stapleton live I hands down insist you do. And if you have any reservations about seeing a show in the north shore of Minnesota at AMSOIL, dont worry, it’s a great venue and I was happy to go and will return.
Get To Know Stapleton Song Recommendations: Tennessee Whiskey, Parachute, Either Way, Nobody to Blame, Broken Halos, Might As Well Get Stoned