The singer is an anomaly in country music, and he showed why he’s a superstar at KeyArena on Tuesday night.
In the age of Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton is an anomaly, but whether he’s a singular, happy accident or the start of something new in country music is yet to be seen.
Tuesday night’s show at KeyArena provided a strong argument toward the latter, as Stapleton dazzled the sold-out crowd with a barrage of songs that defy easy categorization while receiving the kind of deafening cheers reserved for superstars.
He opened with the bluesy lament “Might As Well Get Stoned,” establishing a refreshingly stripped-down sound that featured just drums, bass, guitar and a backup singer (Stapleton’s wife Morgane Hayes). At first, it was somewhat jarring, as the foursome stood huddled together in the center of the stage and gave off the distinct impression that they were used to playing somewhat smaller venues than 13,000-seat KeyArena.
By the time Stapleton got to country rocker “Nobody to Blame,” his first top-10 hit off debut album “Traveller,” it became clear that the band was determined to turn the cavernous venue into their own private roadhouse bar rather than adapt to their surroundings. The first of many singalongs helped create a sense of familiarity and seemed to embolden Stapleton, who used his distinct, soaring vocals to great effect.
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“Broken Halos,” a song off Stapleton’s upcoming sophomore album about the death of a friend with pancreatic cancer, was evidence that the longtime publishing house songwriter still has a knack for more traditional mainstream country sounds and seems like a solid bet to become a hit single. He wasted little time wallowing in sentiment and roared into “Outlaw State of Mind.” The stage became bathed in evil red…