Kacey Musgraves gazed around the Majestic Theatre Thursday.
“It’s kind of a fancy place,” she observed, before deadpanning: “I don’t know why they let us in here.”
The knowing line — what’s a down-home girl like me doing in a high-falutin’ place like this? — drew appreciative laughs, and more than a few whoops from the crowd, most of whom probably wondered something similar.
There was, shall we say, a distinct tension through most of the night (at least on the floor) between those who simply wanted to let loose, have a beer or four and cheer on the hometown heroine as she embarked upon the first date of her “Country and Western Rhinestone Revue” tour, and those who just wanted to enjoy Musgraves’ performance from the plush comfort of the Majestic’s chairs.
To her credit, Musgraves sided with the rowdier attendees — “What is this, Nazi Germany?” she blurted, after an audience member shouted out “They won’t let us stand!” — but the weird atmosphere between the seated and the standing reflected some of the opening night bumps and hiccups glimpsed on stage. (To wit: Musgraves flubbed part of the chorus to the night’s first song, Pageant Material: “I’m pageant material, all right,” she joked as she recovered.)
But Musgraves has honed her set to a high-gloss shine, and once she and her five bandmates — the Runners-Up, she dubbed them, all clad in Pepto-pink Nudie suits adorned with strings of lights — found their footing, the 100-minute showcase settled in.
Musgraves moved through her two albums — Pageant Material and Same Trailer Different Park — touching on the highlights (Biscuits; Silver Lining; Step Off; High Time; Follow Your Arrow), working in some smart covers (Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy and Mary Poppins’ A Spoonful of Sugar, both given sparkling Western swing makeovers) and even indulging in a bit of Five Finger Discount, after someone called out for it, and sharing the amusing story of its genesis.
As always, Merry Go Round, performed by Musgraves alone, remained the emotional high point of the evening. The “girl from Golden” allowed that plenty of family and friends were in the audience Thursday, giving an already poignant song an even greater depth.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime work, a masterful distillation of disenchantment and acceptance. As Musgraves sang the lines — “We get bored, so we get married/Just like dust we settle in this town” — she captured not just a life she had escaped, but one about which she, perhaps, felt a sliver of regret that her journey was wholly different.
You can’t always go home again, but, for a time Thursday, Kacey Musgraves was close enough — a rising superstar on her own turf, sharing in the moment with those who love her, whether they’re related or not.
The night got off to a phenomenal start, thanks to Andrew Combs, another North Texan-turned-Nashvillian.
The Dallas native’s spare, lovingly rendered half-hour set was full of shadows, pinned in place by his arresting voice and facility for making new songs feel as if they’d been plucked from somewhere deep in the past.