Concert Review: Kevin Costner at the Ryman, ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 & Family

by Caroline Bynum
Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

There is something calming, yet eerie in the moments waiting for the main act to take the stage. A palpable anticipation in the air, the dawn of a shared experience amongst strangers. 

The band begins. An encore follows a well-earned standing ovation. Afterward, that same feeling returns as swarms of strangers now bonded by a singular setlist shuffle out. 

Of course, that nearly unexplainable emotion reaches a new level when said-concert occurs in the Ryman Auditorium.

My first visit to the Ryman was two days after moving to Nashville. It was New Year’s Eve and, not yet knowing anyone in my new city, I headed to the Mother Church alone to watch Old Crow Medicine Show ring in 2021. While the fresh feeling of a new year in a new place may have skewed my opinion, I strongly believe the Ryman leaves you with an overwhelming sense of renewal every time you attend. A show at the Ryman signifies a new chapter while honoring our past storylines. A new start marked with a harmonica solo and the tapping of a foot.

On Tuesday night, as I “hi-yes-excuse-me’d” my way to my spot in the pew and waited for Kevin Costner and the Modern West to take the stage, I felt that eerie feeling. That nervous excitement waiting for the show to begin. Kinda like that feeling we have felt since the third season of Yellowstone left us with dropped jaws and plenty of questions. 

The lights went dim and smoke filled the Mother Church. 

Family Connection

A resounding, “If you build it, he will come” filled the sold-out venue. 

Field of Dreams was one of my grandfather’s favorite movies. Ever. It is now my uncle’s favorite movie (along with The Shawshank Redemption, of course).

My point is this: Begin a concert with a smokey room and a quote I’ve known like scripture since I was little, and I am locked in. I won’t be leaving my seat to go to the restroom or get another Jack and Coke. You’ve got my attention.

The start of the concert wasn’t the only tie to family throughout the night, though. I should’ve known going to a concert featuring my grandmother’s celebrity crush was going to have me missing home, but this was more than I expected. 

Just as I was snapping a photo of the band’s backdrop, a painting of a tree that looked damn near identical to the artwork that hung across from my place at the dinner table growing up, he began introducing the next song. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

“This world is hard on everybody and there are no easy rides,” Kevin Costner said. “If you are lucky enough to have a partner, a sweetheart, a wife or husband, someone you can look over and count on – and I hope if you don’t have that person, you find that person. But don’t hurry too much.” (Amen to that. Thank you, Mr. Dutton)

“When you have those hard times, this song is about being able to say to that person something that they may desperately need to hear. It’s really honest. You look at them and you say ‘I can’t do this without you’ and really mean it.”

He began to sing an unreleased song titled “Can’t Do This Without You.”

Sure, this song rings true to nearly anyone who has found their person. But the chorus, which goes “I can’t do this without you, you know it’s true” was far too close to a text I received last week for me to ignore the irony. 

Sorry to expose you, Mom.

So I laughed, thinking about how happy I am that my parents found their person in each other and how I couldn’t do any of the things I do without them. 

Modern Costner

Of course, there were other things that reminded me of my family on Tuesday night. Kevin Costner’s dance moves, which my grandma cited as one of the reasons she loves him. His “khaki-colored jeans”: A garment my mom is begging my dad to buy because John Dutton rocks them so well. 

Those surrounding me in the pews surely had similar moments. Times of reflection or laughter or appreciation carved the communal experience into 2,362 original stories.

As the show comes to a close, that eerie, hushed feeling returns. Anticipation for what is to come, questions about how things ended, demands for justice to be served. Though, now, we begin the next chapter with a new view, enlightened by the harmonies of the last two hours. 

As the bunkhouse brands its members, the moments of Tuesday’s concert have similarly been stamped onto me. An unsaid vow was made to my fellow concert-goers, people eager to know the Duttons’ fates, and those just trying to make it through one more Long Hot Night

Kevin Costner and the Modern West’s show perfectly crafted a recap of our series so far, narrated by song and a hefty dose of nostalgia. An unmentioned head nod to all of us Outsiders; a branded Y signifying renewal and the start of a new season.