The line started to form in the late afternoon on Sunday, November 15. By the time the doors opened, the cold, damp San Francisco air cut through the string of people circling the block. Security measures were increased because of recent events. Slowly, the historic Fillmore Auditorium filled to capacity.
The Walcott’s opened the show. They are a high energy rock/country/blues band with local roots, now based in Los Angeles. Oft compared to Levon Helm, Dr. John, and Tom Waits, with good reason. Combining full male (Tom Cusimano) and female (Laura Marion) vocals, a juicy band, and peppy moves, the house stayed entertained and moved. When they left the stage, the anticipation and excitement rippled through the crowd.
The stage was quickly changed. On the floor, near the microphone stand of Chris Stapleton, a cowhide rug was placed. Next to the mic stand holding his wife, Morgane’s tambourine, a case was covered with a colorful striped serape blanket. The multitude of ornate crystal chandeliers adorning the ceiling dimmed, leaving a softly lit stage, and eliciting cheers from the eager fans.
A barely illuminated Stapleton picked up his guitar, took to his mic, and had the audience flying high, with “Might as Well Get Stoned.” The light increased, and the glow behind Morgane as she sang delicate harmonies, showcased her long, wavy, blonde hair, cascading down her back. It began to sway as Chris led us into the title track from his CMA award winning album, “Traveller.” Next, “Fire Away” highlighted the raw power in his voice. Then, he looked back at a crazy year (or two), singing “Was it 26,” and he kept the crowd raptured with “Nobody to Blame.”
Stapleton paused, and said, “If you’da ever told me I’d be playing a sold out show at the Fillmore, I’da told you you were lying.” And then, he looked over at his wife, as if she were heaven’s finest flower, and he had just seen her for the first time. She smiled tenderly back at him, then melted all of our hearts with her rendition of, “(You Are My) Sunshine.”
“Anybody want to hear a Tom Petty song?” Stapleton asked. And the crowd went wild, and so, he covered, “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” and it was all him when he was done. “Parachute” was next, then a new song, “Tipsy.” A few lyrics from that, “When you kiss me, it’s a natural high, love the way you get me goin’ out of my mind, Tipsy!” It got me looking forward to his next album! More classic country sounds followed with “The Devil Named Music,” and “Outlaw State of Mind.”
Stapleton left the stage with a crowd hungering for more. He came back on and satisfied that with “Whiskey & You,” and “Tennessee Whiskey,” and given the audience’s vocal persuasions for Chris to drink more whiskey on stage through the night, it was perfect. He slipped off the stage for a second time, and the people did not move, calling for a second encore. They were obliged with “Sometimes I Cry.” A fitting end, as it was the last song recorded for the album, and because at the end of the night, the room was filled with emotion. His voice reaches out from the stage like hands, holding every listener captive. The melodies seeping into ears, like the sweetest honey. If you don’t own Traveller yet, I recommend purchasing it. And if you get a chance to see Chris Stapleton live, please do!
You can check out his tour schedule and more at www.ChrisStapleton.com.
Buy Traveller on iTunes.