When an artist writes and records an album, they do so in a certain order so the listener can appreciate their thought process and their journey. That is exactly the experience that Kelsea Ballerini wanted to give her sold-out crowd in New York City last night. Ballerini played her entire 2017 sophomore album, Unapologetically in order, explaining throughout the night the story behind the songs and each section of the record, heartbreak, self-discovery, and finding true love.
Throughout her winter tour, Ballerini has had Walker Hayes play a 45-minute set to warm up the crowd. Nash FM DJs Katie Neal and Jesse Addy had a big surprise for the singer, asking him to join them on stage so that they could present him with his very first ever certified platinum record for “You Broke Up With Me”. Hayes gasped and held his hands over his mouth in disbelief when they made the announcement and graciously accepted the plaque. Watching that special moment was the perfect way to kick off his set.
Hayes performed songs off of his debut album, Boom such as “Break the Internet”, “Dollar Store”, “Beautiful” and “Halloween”. He paused to explain to the fans how grateful he was for that moment. “I’m humbled, I’ve never had a platinum record,” he said. “The reason that this song went platinum is because of the people like you who love music and who are open minded, because my music definitely doesn’t fit into a box”. Singing his next single, “Craig” he explained that the song was a simple thank you to someone who helped him out during a rough time in his life and that he feels it is an absolute miracle that the song is going to country radio in a few short weeks. He closed with a song he wrote as a tribute to his favorite country artist, Kenny Chesney, “Shut Up Kenny”.
Ballerini’s set included a giant video heart that changed colors and displayed videos that corresponded with each song. She opened the show with the first song on Unapologetically, “Graveyard” and continued through the entire project. One thing became clear extremely early on in the night, Ballerini’s fans are unlike those who just listen to the radio and know the words to the singles. For an album that has only been released for five short months, it was remarkable to hear the entire room in unison not only singing “Legends” but every single word of every single song that she performed. The way she interacts with her fans, even in a packed room like last night, she lovingly let them feel the appreciation she has for each and every one of them.
“I played the next song at the Grand Ole Opry,” she began. “I can’t explain there was just a magic in it and we knew we had to put it on the album and today I heard it on NASH FM 94.7 for the very first time,” she told us before singing her next country radio single, “I Hate Love Songs”. After finishing “Legends” which closes out her latest album, she thanked the crowd for changing her life with these next songs. The night wouldn’t be complete without “Peter Pan”, “Dibs” and “Yeah Boy”. “I wanted to end each night of this tour how everything started, just me and my guitar.” She explained before performing an acoustic version of her debut single and first number one, “Love Me Like You Mean It”. If the night wasn’t filled with magic already, Ballerini held up the microphone for the last chorus and the audience drowned out the singer with their singing.
The tour heads to New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom tonight for another sold-out show. Below are the remaining stops and click here for tickets.
April 6 – Sayreville, N.J. @ Starland Ballroom
April 7 – Richmond, Va. @ The National
April 19 – Portland, Ore. @ Crystal Ballroom
April 20 – Spokane, Wash. @ The Knitting Factory
April 21 – Seattle, Wash. @ Showbox SoDo
April 25 – Santa Barbara, Calif. @ Arlington Theatre
April 27 – Indio, Calif. @ Stagecoach Festival