Miranda Lambert Proves Authenticity Still Matters During Sold-Out Nashville-Area Show

by Jim Casey

If Miranda Lambert is anything, she’s an original. An authentic country star. The whole package. Write, sing, play guitar, perform . . . but also she connects with her fans in a way I’ve only seen a few big-name contemporary country artists, namely Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, and Kacey Musgraves. I know, you’ll say there are others (everyone staunchly defends their fandom), but I’ve been covering this country beat for more than a decade. So I’ve been watching—in person. Miranda’s concerts aren’t about the spectacle of production, as much as they are about the spectacle of music. This isn’t a nostalgia tour. This is a real-time affair. Case in point: Miranda’s show at FirstBank Amphitheater on April 28 in Franklin, Tenn. (about 25 miles south of Nashville).

Everything about the show exemplified why Miranda is the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year. The capacity crowd (somewhere around 7,500) at the stunning natural stone amphitheater (it’s an old rock quarry) danced and sang the night away, as Miranda treated them to more than 20 tunes. The people came to see Miranda, explicitly. And that’s what she gave them, sans a couple of mid-set collaborations with her Pistol Annies’ bandmate Ashley Monroe on “Heart Like Mine,” and The Cadillac Three (they opened) frontman Jaren Johnston and Ashley on “Willin’,” a Little Feat throwback.

Everything about the night was exceptional—music, weather, setting—except the logistical nightmare of getting to and from the venue. What a logjam, but I guess when “Traffic Improvements” is a subhead on the venue’s website, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. I digress. Back to the exceptional music.

Miranda the Entertainer

Miranda opened the first half of her 22-song show with tunes from her early catalog, including 2005’s “Kerosene” and 2007’s “Famous in a Small Town,” as well as a sampling of three songs—”Actin’ Up,” “If I Was a Cowboy,” and “Strange”—from her brand-new album, Palomino, which dropped today (April 29). The fans ate it up . . . every bit, including singing along to the new tracks.

“I know I’ve thrown a couple new ones at y’all tonight,” said Miranda Lambert from the stage. “Thanks [for] singing along to those, by the way. I was thinking about songs that mean the world to me and the times in my life when I really needed them. I always go back to this one because I’m a sucker for a sad song.”

Of course, Miranda was referencing her 2017 ACM Song of the Year, “Tin Man,” which she performed acoustically, before launching into crowd-favorite, “The House That Built Me.” And yeah, there was plenty more from Miranda, including “Gunpowder & Lead,” “Mama’s Broken Heart,” and “Little Red Wagon.”

Certainly, Miranda Lambert is worthy of her ACM Entertainer of the Year title. There are 50,000-seat arena tours you can catch this spring and summer. Go ahead, have a good time. But Miranda’s upcoming The Bandwagon Tour with Little Big Town—which largely takes place at amphitheaters—is a must-see show . . . for lovers of the music.

Set List

  1. Actin’ Up
  2. Kerosene
  3. Fastest Girl in Town
  4. Strange
  5. Settling Down
  6. Famous in a Small Town
  7. If I Was a Cowboy
  8. Bluebird
  9. Only Prettier
  10. Vice
  11. Tin Man
  12. The House That Built Me
  13. Automatic
  14. Heart Like Mine feat. Ashley Monroe
  15. Willin’ feat. Ashley Monroe and Jaren Johnston
  16. Tequila Does
  17. That’s the Way the World Goes ’Round
  18. Gunpowder & Lead
  19. Mama’s Broken Heart
  20. White Liar
  21. Little Red Wagon
  22. Drunk