16.000 Fans Fit In The Palm Of Chris Stapleton’s Hand At The Xcel


Downtown St. Paul got a healthy jolt of 16.000 country fans on Friday as fans descended on the Xcel Energy Center to see Christ Stapleton. But the crowd was a bit more diverse thanks to Stapleton’s reputation as a serious musician taking country music beyond the easy listening country bro fare. Chris Stapleton is calling this tour an All-American Road Show and his choice of openers reflects that he’s not one to dwell on the past.

It started with Morgan Wade, a recent addition to the country scene. Her sound is classic country complete with twang but there’s no denying that Wade is a country artist of the 21st century complete with tattoos and as likely to sport Doc Martens as Cowboy Boots.

Elle King has come a long way from 2014’s Ex’s and Oh’s. We caught her several times live and she always is a blast to watch, from the raunchy set at the Varsity to marrying a couple on stage at the State Theater. She hit country music with a vengeance scoring a number one hit with Miranda Lambert – Drunk. Slicked back hair, green glasses, a vape pen and a solo cup as well as her music showed she has no intention of being a shy country rose.

Chris Stapleton got off to an intense rocking start before he dialed it back to let the audience catch their breath. Midway through his set stripped it down with 3 songs which he described as “the part of the show where I fire my band for two or three songs.”. In a large arena filled with country fans there to party that’s a risk but Stapleton is a force and if it’s just him and his guitar, that’s enough to hold everyone’s attention. The band got unfired and joined him back on stage to up the tempo again. And those guys who keep shouting “Freebird” during shows? They got a tease with a playful intro to “The Devil Named Music”.

I may not be a country music fan, but I enjoyed every single minute of Friday night’s concert.

Setlist Nobody to Blame / Parachute / Second One to Know / Starting Over / Millionaire / Hard Livin / Worry B Gone / What Are You Listening To? / Traveler / Whiskey and You / Arkansas / You Should Probably Leave / Midnight Train to Memphis / Might As Well Be Stoned / Cold / The Devil Named Music / I Was Wrong / Joy of My Life / Fire Away / Broken Halos / Tennessee / Whiskey
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