Rising star Kacey Musgraves played the first sold-out show by a Country music act at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall venue in 12 years. That’s some feat for 27-year-old Musgraves who was playing to some 350 fans under two years ago at West London’s Bush Hall. And tonight, that very concert airs in full on BBC4 at 11pm. And so in anticipation, here is RockShot Magazine’s full review with exclusive photos from that show.
“I think that this is the fanciest place I’ve ever been in, how did they let me in?” the 27-year-old said, looking around the packed out hall and taking in just how far she’s come, so far away from the home of Country music. With themes stretching from casual drug-taking and homosexuality addressed in Follow Your Arrow, through to busting out of small-town USA with This Town, some of the subject matter covered by Musgraves may raise an eyebrow or two in the smaller towns of Texas, but in cities like Austin and most certainly here in London, these are topics that resonate.
Opening with her third record’s title track Pageant Material, Musgraves kicked off her Royal Albert Hall debut in fine form, her “Rhinestone Revue” tour featuring a stage decked out in pink tinsel, adorned with glitter balls and lit-up stars, her five-piece all-male band sporting pink suits lit up with fairy lights.
First single from latest record Biscuits was next, the 27-year-old encouraging the Royal Albert Hall crowd to get to their feet. “Y’all have Biscuits here right?” she asked. Fans were then treated to Silver Lining from her sophomore release; the gentle tones of the steel-pedal ensuring the Country vibe came through the merry tune.
“How are you doing Royal Albert Hall?” she asked to cheers. “Welcome to the Rhinestone Revue! Did you guys know that you sold this place out!?” Describing her previous London headline shows she continued: “The last time we played here we played Shepherd’s Bush and I kept making bush puns all night, so I don’t know what I’m going to do here.”
Leading on into small town-describing song This Town, Musgraves asked of the crowd “did anyone come here tonight from a small town? Well I’m from a really small town too but its back in Texas. If I’m being honest, there really isn’t shit there!” The unassuming star then dove into a cover of fellow Texan Country star Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart before breaking into a Country rendition of TLC’s 1999 hit No Scrubs.
Musgraves then brought her pink-suited band closer around a central microphone forming a Country-music writers circle. “How about a round of applause for the Runner Ups?” she said. “We’ve now made it to the talent portion of this pageant” she continued. “we’re going to wow you with all of our talents right now.”
During this baffling section of the show, keyboardist and guitarist Kyle Ryan demonstrated his juggling skills, drummer Scott Quintana juggled drumsticks while playing drums and barked like a dog and pedal steel player and guitarist Adam Ollendorff performed an impression of a drunken person. “I can’t stop talking in your accent” she said in a rather poor English accent. “One thing I really like saying, some fans gave me these cookies called Jammy Dodgers. Brilliant, jam in a biscuit!”
Next up was the casual sex-referring song It Is What It Is ahead of new album track Cup Of Tea which was followed up with a gentle Country version of English rock band Coldplay’s hit single Yellow, Musgraves having played the cover during her Royal Variety Performance slot at the same venue a few days before.
Poignantly, as this show had followed the recent horrific attacks in Paris, including the attack on the Bataclan music venue during an Eagles of Death Metal show, Musgraves took time out to express her feelings as a touring artist at such a time. Welling up, she said “in light of the insanity that’s been happening lately, I really appreciate you guys being so brave and coming out still”.
“I was asked if I wanted to cancel” she continued, “I really didn’t want to because music is very healing to everyone including me, so I just think that it would be the wrong time to cancel.” After fighting back the tears, Musgraves ploughed on with fan favourite Merry Go ‘Round, the song hitting on themes such as drug use and adultery in her fun and merry way.
Referring to her highly publicised encounter with Prince Harry at the Royal Variety Performance she said “so I had the utmost privilege to get to high five the Prince.” Explaining her faux pas she continued “no one briefed me on royal etiquette. Did you know that you’re not really supposed to high-five a member of the Royal Family?
Following 2014 CMA Song Of The Year Follow Your Arrow, Musgraves and her band launched into a cover of Lee Hazelwood’s These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ before closing out the show with Roy Rogers’ Happy Trails, sung A Capella.
Described as the new rebel queen of Nashville, Musgraves brings her slightly controversial messages to the forefront with honey-slick Country melodies and the most innocent of smiles. And while she may be tipped as the next breakthrough Country to mainstream crossover artist, she’s sticking to her Country guns firmly for now.
Catch Kacey Musgraves’ “Rhinestone Revue” live at the Royal Albert Hall tonight (4th November 2016) on BBC4 at 11pm. Musgraves returns to your ears with her seasonal record A Very Kacey Christmas, which is out now.
Live review of Kacey Musgraves @ Royal Albert Hall by Kalpesh Patel on 18th November 2015.
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate