Maren Morris Honors Her Musical Journey at Nashville Homecoming Show – Billboard


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Maren Morris’ headlining show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Friday (Dec. 2) came just weeks before her 10-year anniversary of chasing her dreams from her native Texas to Music City.


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“I cry at simple things, so this will be overwhelming,” Morris told the crowd, recalling the many times she’s been at Bridgestone. “I’ve opened shows here, I’ve won awards, I’ve lost awards in this room, but it’s the first time I’ve walked out here and known it was my stage.”

The Nashville concert marked the end of Morris’ Humble Quest Tour, and she said, “It felt appropriate to end it at my doorstep.”

To that end, her concert both chronicled and honored her musical journey from her Texas roots to her early days in Nashville, hustling to write songs with meaning that will stand out from the usual Music Row denizens in the writing rooms on 16th Avenue (“Circles Around This Town” particularly resonated with this Music City crowd of dreamers, who seemed to chant along in particular glee). She recounted her days of playing local Nashville haunts such as Belcourt Taps and Basement East and ascending to venues such as the Ryman Auditorium and finally to Bridgestone.

Now enjoying the fruits of her years of work toiling in writing rooms and steadily building her fanbase one song and concert at a time, she took a moment later in her set to pass along the lessons she’s learned to other aspiring writers and artists in the room.

“There are so many talented people in this room, in this town and there are so many people in line ahead of you that it’s ok to just wait and the waiting makes the fruit so much sweeter. I just can’t thank you enough for your support over the years.”

She welcomed Hozier to perform with her on “The Bones,” saying, “I’ve seen songs go all the way up to the top of the charts, I’ve seen songs fall, this one went to the top right as the world shut down, so we didn’t really get to have our flowers and celebrate it. But I always wanted to play this song in here for y’all.”

The genre-fluid singer showcased her innate versatility with her slew of country-leaning releases, such as “’80s Mercedes,” the anthem to resilience and confidence with “Girl,” and “I Could Use a Love Song,” but also her pop smashes “The Middle,” and “Chasing After You” with her husband and fellow artist-writer Ryan Hurd. There were also a plethora of songs from her tour’s namesake, her current Humble Quest album, including “Good Friends,” “Background Music,” “Tall Guys,” “Detour,” and another collaboration with Hurd on “I Can’t Love You Anymore.”

She also noted to the crowd the life lessons she chronicled on her Humble Quest album, and her journey through motherhood amidst a global pandemic, a process of learning “when to shut the f— up and when to absolutely not shut the f— up,” which brought cheers from the audience.

“Good Friends” was an apt inclusion in the setlist for this Music City show. Along the way, Morris has cultivated a community of fellow artists and songwriters who build each other up, support dreams, share hardships and champion one another as humans and creators. That essence of friendship was a theme that also rang throughout the evening, as Morris brought out not just a cavalcade of guest artists, but clearly artists whom she counts as friends, confidants, and peers.

She welcomed the majority of her The Highwomen bandmates, including Brittney Spencer (who also opened the show), as well as Sheryl Crow, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires for singalong renditions of “Redesigning Women” and the inclusive, heartwarming “Crowded Table.” Together, Morris and her cohorts showcased music and messages that have been a salve in uncertain times.

“This is a crowded arena,” Hemby said. “After the pandemic, let’s be glad we can be in a crowded room together.”

Also a self-professed “musical theater kid,” Morris even went note for note with Broadway luminary, actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth (who now resides in Nashville) to perform the Wicked favorite “For Good” (in 2003, Chenoweth portrayed Glinda the Good Witch in the show’s Broadway run and earned a Tony nomination for her role). The duet was notable not only for the two singers’ vocal prowess, but the obvious tender friendship between the two, as they stayed close together throughout the performance, hugging and holding hands. Morris noted that they met at Bridgestone back in 2019 during the CMA Awards.

Though Morris often gets credit for her personal, vulnerable songwriting, the evening also proved a showcase for her in equal measure, as evidenced by her thunderous, soulful glissandos on “Once.” Though vocally and musically, her vibe is often soaked in pop and R&B, her stage production, a lush staging of trees and grass surrounding her band, was understated, never overpowering the message of her music and her polished, relaxed stage presence.

She ended the concert by welcoming Hurd and co-writer Jon Green to the stage for a tender encore featuring the final song on Humble Quest, “What Would This World Do?,” a piano ballad tribute to her previous producer busbee, who died in 2019 and who had worked on Morris’ first two albums. Morris shared that she had yet to play the song during her tour.  With busbee’s wife and children watching in the audience, the performance seemed a fitting ending for an evening that celebrated friendship and love, in the city that has supported Morris’s journey to headlining status.

Opening the show was Spencer, who first found a champion in Morris after uploading a cover of The Highwomen’s “Crowded Table” on social media. Spencer’s elegant voice and vulnerable songwriting has led her to become part of The Highwomen’s collective. She recently inked a label deal with Elektra, and released her project if i ever get there: a day a blackbird studio. On this Nashville night, Spencer noted that just a few years ago, she was busking on the streets of Nashville not far from Bridgestone. Her free-spirited, engaging performance style further enhanced her powerful, engaging vocals on songs including her own “A Hundred Years” and a version of the Chicks’ 1999 hit “Cowboy Take Me Away.”

Fellow opener Ruston Kelly, known for his albums Dying Star and Shape & Destroy, led the audience through his own surging country-rock releases including “Cover My Tracks” and “Faceplant,” though the audience seemed to reserve its biggest cheers for his moody version of the 2000 Wheatus hit “Teenage Dirtbag” and a sterling, angsty cover of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well.”

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