Words and photos by Duane Clawson
“Take your best shot, show me what ya got. Honey, I’m not afraid. Rear back and take aim. And fire away!” ~ "Fire Away", Chris Stapleton
'Taking his best shot' is something Chris Stapleton has done, and done really well over the past year, taking his solo career to an unimaginable level. But in reality, Stapleton has always taken his best shot. Whether it has been fronting the bluegrass fringed band, The SteelDrivers, or writing songs for Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan, it’s been done well by Stapleton. Tonight’s sold out show at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis was no exception.
After a delayed start due to heightened security, Sam Lewis had the honor of opening for Stapleton. Sam Lewis is a songwriter/singer on the fast track in Nashville, as he is quickly gaining notoriety for his songwriting abilities. With the look of a 70’s George Harrison and a voice that leans toward a combination of Ricky Nelson and James Taylor, Mr. Lewis gained at least one new fan. Yes, that was me!
A bit of humor finds its way into Lewis’s set between songs with zingers like, “for those of you just arriving, we are Jesus Christ and the Nazarenes” or when a fan yells out “play Freebird”, Lewis’s response is, “you play Freebird. I mean pull out your phone and play Freebird.” Lewis proclaims “we are the luckiest gate keepers in the world” as he and his super tight band conclude their 60-minute set. Look for much more from this cat in the near future!
Forgoing any of the flash and flare that one sees so much of these days in the big 'bro country' productions, Stapleton walks onstage, plugs in and proceeds to blow away the 4500 in attendance with the opening notes of “Nobody to Blame”. Sitting at this show was an option few took advantage of during this 90-minute barrage of all the good things that have made Chris Stapleton a household name in the past few months. Stapleton receives huge applause when he prefaces the SteelDrivers song, “Drinking Dark Whiskey” by asking the Fox audience,“are there any whiskey drinkers in the house?” The answer was a resounding yes!
Stapleton seems truly humbled by his rise to fame as he made mention of the fact that the last time he was in St. Louis he was opening for, Little Big Town. Just as soon as the audience took a brief five-minute breather for “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore”, they were back on their feet for the opening notes of “Might as Well Get Stoned”. Stapleton is known for changing things up during his live shows and tonight's show was no exception, performing a shuffling version of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels”. As many know, Stapleton’s wife, Morgane, accompanies him for a majority of his time on stage. But what many don’t know is that she can go to toe to toe with her husband in the vocal department, as she brings it from the gut during her time in the spotlight with “You Are my Sunshine”.
As if to oblige the earlier request for “Freebird”, Stapleton breaks into an abbreviated version of the Skynyrd classic prior to a rousing version of “The Devil Named Music”. An ear-piercing ovation returns an unpretentious Stapleton to the stage for a two-song encore, but he stops briefly to address those in attendance, “You fine folks could have been anywhere else in the world tonight, but you chose to spend it with us, and we appreciate it”. Mr. Stapleton, I couldn’t think of any place else I would want to be tonight. Thank you to The Fabulous Fox Theater and Chris Stapleton’s management for letting MTC MAG be there. Photos of the show are below
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Chris Stapleton / Sam Lewis @ The Fabulous Fox Theater, St. Louis Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 2:00:00 PM Rating: