Stars of the ABC hit television series Nashville are taking the incredible music we hear on the show on tour across the United States with Nashville in Concert. They made a stop at the historic Brady Theater in Tulsa, OK on April 21st and it was nothing short of amazing. This leg of the tour included Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor), Jonathon Jackson (Avery Barkley), Aubrey Peeples (Layla Grant) and Chris Carmack (Will Lexington).
Chris Carmack opened the show with what he told me was his favorite song of Will’s called “What if I was Willing.” He then introduced Aubrey Peeples who sang a song written by Maren Morris called “The Book.” After her song, the crowd went crazy for Jonathon Jackson who introduced a new song “Kinda Dig the Feeling.” Next up was Clare Bowen and her fiancé Brandon Young with “Longer” and then, much to the audience’s excitement, Charles Esten appeared and sang a song he said his character Deacon wrote for his wedding to Rayna on the show called “From Here On Out.”
I was very impressed with the format of the show. It was a little over two hours but it flowed so nicely. I never checked my watch for the time. Each artist performed a set of songs and then they would do a duet with the next artist to take the stage. It was a seamless way to keep the show moving while still giving each singer their own spotlight. Some of the cast performed songs that hadn’t aired yet so we got some great sneak peeks of the upcoming episodes’ music.
After each singer performed their introduction song, Carmack once again took the stage for his set. He sang a song that had premiered on Nashville the night before called “Moving On Never Felt So Good.” Then he showed the audience a little of what his personal music is about with the title track from his EP Pieces of You. I really love this song on CD but hearing it live blew me away. Next, Carmack performed “Brothers,” a song he wrote for the season finale, and finally Peeples joined him on stage for “Can’t Say No to You.”
As a fan of the show, I have seen Peeples, as Layla Grant, sing some really great songs, but I was completely floored by the powerhouse voice she had. She wowed the crowd with an amazing cover of the Brenda Lee song “Break it to me Gently” and then brought us to tears with “Too Far from Me,” a tribute to her onscreen boyfriend’s untimely death on the show. She took a little break and asked the audience to tell her the story of the Brady Theater being haunted – which has something to do with an opera singer dying after playing at the venue and haunting the basement – and then asked Jackson to join her on guitar for “Soul Survivor,” a song that is planned for a future episode.
Jackson kept the party going with “Keep Asking Why,” and then poured his heart and soul into an incredible cover of U2 and Bob Dylan’s “Love Rescue Me,” which received a standing ovation. Bowen and Young joined Jackson on stage for the fun, upbeat song “Borrow My Heart” where Young filled in for the part of Sam Palladio’s Gunnar.
Bowen brought her quirkiness to the stage dressed in a flowery skirt with a top full of bling. She looked like a fairy with her pixie hairdo, headband and bare feet. She talked about how her mom always told her that she was weird and eccentric but “don’t let anyone kick dust on your sparkle.” Then she sang a song she wrote about it called “Premonition.” The audience had yelled out from the time she came on stage for her to sing “Black Roses,” probably the most popular song of hers from the show, and she did not disappoint. I looked around and saw many with tears in their eyes and the audience was once again on their feet with applause.
Finally, it was Esten’s turn on the stage and he and Bowen sang two duets – “Hand to Hold” and a rousing cover of Elvis’ “That’s Alright Mama,” where Esten showed off his best Elvis impersonation including flipping up his collar and performing Elvis-style dance moves. Esten sang “Like New” and walked into the crowd to take selfies and give hugs to very excited fans. Then, for a touching tribute to Prince, who had passed away that same day, the whole cast performed an incredible rendition of “Purple Rain.” Esten ended his set with “He Ain’t Me” and the whole cast came back for the encore and sang a fantastic cover of “Take Me to the River.” The show ended with a fan favorite song from Nashville called “A Life That’s Good.”
The entire cast of Nashville was extremely impressive to me. I had to keep reminding myself that most of the people on stage were actors first because the musical talent was so incredible. They entertained us by telling stories about their characters as well as themselves and the chemistry they all had on stage was undeniable. One funny moment happened when an audience member yelled out to Bowen “I love you Clare!” Esten, who plays her uncle on the show, replied, “Don’t make me go all Uncle Deacon on your ass!” There is something special about Nashville. Not only have they been able to gain fans from the TV show itself, but the cast and the fans are able to connect at a deeper level through the music. I hope they renew Nashville for another season and I hope to be able to see another Nashville in Concert again very soon.