Oh, What a Show: Kacey Musgraves radiates at Mtelus

“Born in a hurry, always late, haven’t been early since ’88,” is one of the best and most endearing opening lines for an album. It is infinitely more compelling when sung by a shimmering silhouette emerging from a shroud of fog. From those opening words to the last glimmering chords of “High Horse,” Kacey Musgraves’ show at Mtelus on Jan. 12 was a radiant celebration of music, love, and the power of ‘yeehaw.’

The Grammy-nominated country singer’s first-ever Montreal show drew an eager and enthusiastic crowd—an audience so excited that, at one point, they cheered for three-straight minutes for no apparent reason, prompting Musgraves to muse that they were just proud she didn’t trip in her mile-high gold heels. Occasionally, she would pull the microphone away from her face and let the crowd carry the song for a few seconds, or, in one instance, for the full chorus of “Merry Go ‘Round.”

Over the course of the show, Musgraves and her band played the entirety of her latest album, 2018’s Golden Hour. The vocoder-centred “Oh, What a World” tour received the full country-acoustic treatment, complete with a banjo, cello, steel-pedal guitar, and double bass, while “Velvet Elvis” and “Wonder Woman” glittered with pop-sensibility. Musgraves sang “Space Cowboy” amidst deep blue lights, giving her the appearance of standing alone in a limitless, cobalt void. The show also featured tracks from Musgraves’ previous two records, including “High Time” and “Die Fun” from Pageant Material, and “Follow Your Arrow” from Same Trailer Different Park. A multi-talented and dedicated band, dressed in powder blue suits and sporting impressive facial hair, supported Musgraves’ vocals. The band members rotated instruments, while Musgraves spent most of the night playing the guitar.

Toward the end of the night, Musgraves donned a blue faux-fur coat over her shimmering, rainbow jumpsuit and was joined on stage by tour opener Natalie Prass for a country cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive.” As one of the most prominent female voices in a typically male-dominated genre, Musgraves’ rendition of the female-empowerment anthem felt particularly relevant. The two performers hopped around the stage, trading verses and dancing as if they were alone in the theatre. In her own set, Prass danced through the funk-leaning tracks off her latest album, The Future and The Past. Her light, honey-coated voice floated over the yacht-rock instrumentation of “Never Too Late” and captivated the audience with the heartbreaking “My Baby Don’t Understand Me.” The message of her Women’s March anthem “Sisters” was all the more powerful when she joined Musgraves on stage and the two of them came together to celebrate each other’s talents.

In addition to a performance that managed to sound even better than the recordings, Musgraves indulged the audience in Kacey-isms including a Mean Girls reference, “Your mom’s a sexy bitch,” “making it rain some memes,” and many a “yaaaassss queen.” If an appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars didn’t cement Musgraves’ status as a gay country icon, her ability to lead a crowd full of hip, Montreal gays in a ‘yee haw’ call and response certainly did.

Musgraves’ demonstration of allyship wasn’t just limited to funny banter, however. At the end of the show, she dedicated Golden Hour’s closing track, the optimistic “Rainbow,” to a man who told her during the meet-and-greet that he had just come out to his parents and had not been met with a great deal of support. While she was talking directly to him, it felt as though she was speaking to everyone who had ever faced hardship and self-doubt. As she sang the final chorus, rainbow lights flooded the stage, and even though, as Musgraves pointed out, “the world is fucking crazy,” if only for that night, “it’ll all be alright.”

 

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