Here are the five best things we witnessed during Lambert’s Nashville performance.
Lambert’s headliner show is mesmerizing with no shortage of hits
Whether she was playing early singles like the scorching “Kerosene” and the rollicking “Gunpowder and Lead” or the nostalgic “Automatic” and confessional “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Lambert’s power as a vocalist and entertainer was apparent. On “Mama’s Broken Heart,” she embodied the character of a woman standing up to society’s beliefs following a breakup where a woman should “get a grip and bite your lip just to save a little face.” The lively number saw Lambert spinning in circles with a mischievous grin at the song’s end while an image of scissors appeared on the screen behind her.
Lambert’s set included countless covers, some more surprising than others. She performed John Prine's “That’s the Way the World Goes ’Round,” featured on her 2009 album Revolution, as well as Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright,” which she worked into “Baggage Claim.” On “Feelin’ Alright,” she gave the microphone to Blu Sanders, her tour manager assistant, when he was walking out to hand her a drink. An artist in his own right, Sanders captivated the arena with his soulful and jazzy take on the original.
Additional covers included Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” which Lambert performed after the standout “Tequila Does,” promising one more honky tonk song for the audience. Lambert later closed out her show with openers Cody Johnson and LANCO for a stirring performance of Travis Tritt's “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.”
Lambert’s ballads are just as memorable as the barn burners
While Lambert’s showtime persona is a fiery one, her ballads show a softer side to the singer. Whether she’s alone with an acoustic guitar or backed by a full band, she captivates. New single “Bluebird” highlighted Lambert’s soaring vocals while the poignant “The House That Built Me” quieted the venue. Ahead of performing another touching ballad, “Dark Bars,” Lambert opened up to her audience, admitting that the song was written after a difficult time in 2015.
"I feel like Nashville is somewhere where you can go if you need to be a dreamer and not be judged about it. I spent a lot of time here on highs and lows … I went through a really hard time in my life," Lambert said, referencing her divorce from Blake Shelton. "I moved here in 2015 in the middle of a s---show, but I was lifted up by people who were like, 'We got you, girl.' My friends and my songwriters and my fans and everybody here."
Pistol Annies exemplify why the band is Grammy-worthy in four-song set
Ahead of introducing her Pistol Annies bandmates Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley -- the trio is up for best country album for 2018's Interstate Gospel at the upcoming Grammy Awards on Sunday -- Lambert strapped on a washboard for “Takin’ Pills” and promised the audience, “I’m gonna play the s--- out of this washboard.” Pistol Annies would go on to perform the infectious divorce song "Got My Name Changed Back," nostalgic “Best Years of My Life” and debut single “Hell on Heels,” much to the delight and incessant screams from the audience.
"We've been a band for almost a decade," Lambert said. "And in that decade we have accomplished a lot of life together. Together we have three husbands, two ex-husbands. Three babies, a step-child and 24 animals. And, as of late, also a Grammy nomination."
Lambert inspires others to chase their dreams
Lambert shared a favorite memory of first visiting Nashville as a teenager and instantly getting the performance bug. While she admitted she was terrified playing on the Bridgestone Arena stage ahead of singing the heartfelt “All Kinds of Kinds,” she offered some advice to fans hoping to pursue their dreams.
"The first time I [visited] Nashville, I was 16 years old," Lambert said. "I had no idea what was going on, but I went to Printer's Alley and I tried to sing LeAnn Rimes and I sucked real bad at karaoke. That's the first time I remember getting really hungry for something. I realized, if you're gonna chase something, you gotta go with your whole gusto. You gotta give it all you got.
“I’m a girl from the middle of nowhere Texas, but I want to tell everybody in here tonight: whatever you want to do, you can do it," she continued. "Whatever you chase, you gotta chase it with your whole heart. I don’t want you to be discouraged by where you come from or if you’re not confident. I’m scared to death up here right now if I’m being honest. But, we’re all here to celebrate music and music brought us together tonight. So whatever your dream is, we’re going to celebrate that: we’re going to celebrate you and who you are and what you stand for and where you come from because guess what, Nashville? It takes all kinds of kinds.”