Kelsea Ballerini Proves She's Set for Superstardom at New York City Concert

Kelsea Ballerini
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Kelsea Ballerini In Concert at Irving Plaza on Dec. 2, 2016 in New York City.

The country sweetheart even managed to handle a surprise fire alarm like a champ.

"If I want you to hear anything tonight, it's thank you," Kelsea Ballerini told the sold-out crowd at New York City's Irving Plaza Friday night (Dec. 2). When the country singer brought her First Time tour to the Big Apple, she certainly said the phrase "thank you" enough for fans to know that she was grateful they bought a ticket to see her perform. But when it came down to it, Ballerini used much more than her words to give fans a proper expression of gratitude.

Coming to the stage after some dramatic instrumentals and a scream-inducing light show (Including Ballerini's lit-up name as the backdrop), Ballerini started the party with her hit "Yeah Boy," which immediately set the tone for what the rest of the show would be: a fun-filled night of sing-alongs and dance parties, all led by a genuinely talented artist.

While Ballerini spent much of her 85-minute concert dancing around the stage and using her light-up microphone stand as a prop as she engaged with the audience, she won over the hearts of everyone in the place no matter how many songs they knew. The energy she brought with her opening number continued throughout the show, especially during songs like the feel-good "Square Pegs" and the cutesy "Dibs." Her enthusiasm was infectious and as genuine as can be, providing a good time for superfans and those who may have been more obligated to be there than excited -- i.e., the dads with daughters on their shoulders and girls who accompanied their swooning guy friends.

As Ballerini was getting into the heart of her show, singing a new track called "High School," suddenly her mic went out. This was no technical difficulty, though, as the fire alarms sounded not long after the loss of sound. She looked as caught off guard as everyone in the building, but instead of acting panicked she sweetly offered "I'll be right back!" and shuffled off the stage. Despite the flashing fire alarm lights and loud beeping sounds, there was no indication from venue staff that something was wrong, so there was hardly any movement from the crowd who had just been enthralled with Ballerini's performance just moments before.

About 10 minutes later, Ballerini returned to the stage (after an apology for the "inconvenience" over the loudspeaker) and carried on with the show. Of course she had to acknowledge what had just happened, and she did so with the same charm she had possessed prior to the alarms. "New York too lit?" she joked, even throwing in some finger guns to really emphasize the punch line.

Following some brilliant odes to David Allan Coe and Adele with covers of "Tennessee Whiskey" and "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," respectively, Ballerini dove back into a series of songs she penned -- the first post-alarm original ironically being "Sirens" -- engaging the audience as if there had never been a break in the action. She invited a group of high-spirited friends to the stage to dance along to "We Were Like," a moment that truly captured what it is Ballerini sets out to do with her shows: have a great time with all of her (fan) friends.

The latter part of the set list was perfectly assorted to combine the beautifully slower tracks ("Peter Pan") with the more electrifying numbers ("XO"), with Ballerini sharing stories with the crowd before nearly every tune. Perhaps one of the more resonating things Ballerini told the audience: "It matters so much to me that words matter to you," something that was apparent by the way she presented each song. 

Ballerini may have only been playing to a crowd of just over a thousand, but she could fool anyone into thinking she was playing to an arena with the way she owned the stage and performed every song with a combination of poise and fervor. If she keeps up the free-spirited charm and obvious love for performing (and her fans), it's likely those stadium shows aren't far off.

Set List:

"Yeah Boy"
"?Looking at Stars"
"?Square Pegs"
"?High School"
?"Tennessee Whiskey"
?"Send My Love (To Your New Lover)"
"We Were Like"
"?Let It Go/Sorry/Apologize" (nedley of covers)
"Peter Pan"
"?The First Time"
?"Love Me Like You Mean It"


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