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Kacey Musgraves, The SSE Arena Wembley, London live review

The US country star brought her Oh, What A World: Tour to London.

Kacey Musgraves
Credit: Kelly Christine Sutton

Since releasing her debut album Same Trailer Different Park in 2013, Kacey Musgraves has become well known for her storytelling lyrics, quirky sound and retro style. This approach has won her two Grammy Awards, seen her write songs for Miranda Lambert and the TV series Nashville, and win over fans on both sides of the Atlantic. After her triumphant headline performance at C2C earlier this year, Musgraves announced she would return to the UK for her Oh, What A World: Tour, in support of her critically acclaimed third album Golden Hour.

Arriving on stage shortly after 9.15 with her five-piece band, Musgraves opened her set with Slow Burn. Right from the off it was clear that this was going to be a true arena show. With lighting effects that mimicked a sunrise and flanked by three giant fans, she performed the song on her acoustic guitar wearing a sequinned striped 70s-style jumpsuit. Her sweet yet rich tones perfectly complemented the shimmering melody and she received an enormous cheer from the audience as the song drew to a close.

Throughout the show Musgraves performed a selection of songs from across her three albums. Understandably the focus was on tracks from Golden Hour, such as the upbeat Wonder Woman, the poppy vibe of Lonely Weekend and the optimistic, 80s-influenced Love Is A Wild Thing. However, there was also plenty of room for fan favourites from her previous records too, including the bluesy, emotional Keep It To Yourself, the tongue-in-cheek Family Is Family and Wild West-influenced High Time

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One thing which particularly struck me about Musgraves’ performance was her willingness to change things up. Whether that was the sparse, stripped-back intro to Merry Go Round or her seamless transition from a solo performance of Mother to Oh, What A World with its delicate, lullaby feel, it showed that she wasn’t afraid to put a different spin on things for her live show. I also thought she came across as very confident and self-assured on stage as she told stories about the influences on her songs, jammed with her band and played up to the on-stage cameras during Velvet Elvis. She looked like she was having a great time and her enthusiasm was clearly transferring to the crowd, who sang every word back to her.

Midway through the show, Musgraves brought out Keane frontman Tom Chaplin to perform Somewhere Only We Know, which she’d performed earlier this week on Radio 2. Her soft, gentle vocals worked really nicely with Tom’s more powerful sound and they blended together well. Other highlights for me included the dreamy, romantic Butterflies, her simple yet powerful performance of Space Cowboy and Follow Your Arrow, which turned the entire arena into a joyful celebration of being yourself.

For her encore, Musgraves came out alone and sat down on the steps at the back of the stage, before speaking very openly about her previous visits to the UK over the last six years and moving up through venues (including an apology for being late at her Royal Albert Hall show!). She then performed the piano-led Rainbow, lighting up the crowd with coloured lights, which I have to admit brought a tear to my eye with its message of letting go and embracing who you are.

After bringing out her support act Soccer Mommy for a cover of *NSYNC’s 90s hit Tearin’ Up My Heart (complete with a full-on boyband dance routine!), Musgraves closed the show with High Horse, which got a roar of approval from the audience. The funky, disco-influenced tune definitely got everyone up and dancing, as Musgraves hit some impressive high notes and encouraged the crowd to sing and clap along. It was an utterly euphoric moment and ended the evening on a high.

Overall Kacey Musgraves put on an absolutely fantastic show, combining her stunning vocals with brilliant showmanship and great energy throughout. She showed why she’s one of the most unique country artists around at the moment and that she’s just as skilled at performing fun, uptempo numbers as she is with heartfelt ballads. Her whole performance was a complete joy to watch from start to finish and I loved every second of it. My only wish was that it could have gone on for the rest of the night!

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Set list: 1. Slow Burn 2. Wonder Woman 3. Butterflies 4. Lonely Weekend 5. Keep It To Yourself 6. Merry Go Round 7. High Time 8. Golden Hour 9. Die Fun 10. Mother 11. Oh, What A World 12. Somewhere Only We Know (Keane cover) (with Tom Chaplin) 13. Love Is A Wild Thing 14. Velvet Elvis 15. Happy And Sad 16. Space Cowboy 17. Follow Your Arrow 18. Rainbow 19. Tearin’ Up My Heart (*NSYNC cover) (with Soccer Mommy) 20. High Horse Performance date: 27th October 2018

See Kacey Musgraves on her Oh, What A World: Tour in the UK and Ireland this autumn:

28 October – O2 Academy, Birmingham
30 October – O2 Apollo, Manchester
1 November – Sage, Gateshead
2 November – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow
3 November – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
5 November – Waterfront Hall Auditorium, Belfast
6 November – Olympia Theatre, Dublin

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