Chris Stapleton review: At Wrigley Field, the singer-songwriter brings the thunder, even if Mother Nature doesn’t
Chris Stapleton weathered the impending storm as best he could at Wrigley Field on Saturday night. The country rebel was finally able to hold his All-American Road Show at the historic park after two failed attempts by the pandemic (in August 2020 and July 2021), but Mother Nature wasn’t really playing ball.
Heat alerts greeted the first arrivals to Wrigley, reminding people in their sweaty leather boots and cowboy hats to drink water and take breaks in the sun. But at 5:45 p.m., event organizers decided to push back the schedule of events to get ahead of a severe system expected to move through the area. Notice boards have been updated to inform customers that the show was now due to start at 6 p.m. with two of the four opening acts canceled and Stapleton taking the stage at 7 p.m., an hour and 40 minutes early .
The singer-songwriter posted the memo on his social media, as did show station US-99, with tour producer Live Nation re-tweeting it and sharing it on Facebook, in the purpose of informing ticket holders who are not yet inside the stadium about the abrupt changes. There was a huge crowd by the time Stapleton took the stage at 7:20 p.m., and he still managed to deliver an expansive 18-song set accompanied by his cohesive ensemble of six musicians (including talented harmonica player Mickey Raphael, known for his work with Willie Nelson).
The 90-minute affair culled from all of Stapleton’s announced albums, including 2015’s debut album “Traveler,” 2017’s double whammy “From a Room” Volumes 1 & 2, and Grammy-winning album 2020 “Starting Over”, which really propelled him into the mainstream.
“We’re going to play as much music as we can and have as much fun as we can in the time we have,” Stapleton told the crowd as he raced against nature, no doubt with memories swirling in his head. from that 2017 appearance at Wrigley Field opens for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers when a veritable deluge hits his set.
Stapleton gave an encore from the shadows with a guest spot from the great Mike Campbell, the former Heartbreakers guitarist who now fronts the Dirty Knobs, one of the casualties of the evening’s opening act. The two paired up on a Southern rock-fueled cover of The Heartbreakers’ “I Should Have Known It” with Campbell’s funky swagger adding spades to the track alongside Stapleton’s natural twang. Campbell also took part in the honky-tonk classic “Arkansas” which he co-wrote with Stapleton.
The other supporting sacrifice of the night was none other than Chicago soul/gospel queen Mavis Staples, whose canceled set was a huge disappointment to many who wanted to see the national treasure gracing the stage at Wrigley Field in his hometown. (It has just been announced that she can next be seen as the special guest appearing on Bonnie Raitt’s Ravinia show this Wednesday.)
Staples had a brief moment onstage, invited to a jaw-dropping showdown of Stapleton’s feel-good song “Friendship,” lending all her soulful enthusiasm to the track while wearing her own personalized Cubs jersey.
The Highwomen were also among this number; they were notably the only support group to get the promised set and were a complete hindrance in the process. The matching denim-clad supergroup – made up of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby – were synchronized harmonizers whose rich vocals intertwined beautifully on songs such as “Redesigning Women,” “Loose Change” and a cover. of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac with Morgan Stapleton (singer-songwriter and wife of Chris). The Highwomen were also joined in their set by the great artist Jason Isbell (and Shires’ husband).
“We’re all family here, and that’s legendary,” Maren Morris said at one point. And most of the night went that way, like when Stapleton released his “hero” for a one-night-only appearance: his frequent songwriting partner Mike Henderson, a vital part of the SteelDrivers bluegrass band in which Stapleton debuted. Their performance of “Midnight Train to Memphis” showed Stapleton that he was perhaps most at home on vocals and guitar, still as committed to his roots even as he expanded to a new Crossed territory over the past few years working with pop stars like Adele and Justin Timberlake. .
But as Saturday’s weather-hindered spectacle proved, Stapleton is a prime example of adaptability. His penchant for bringing a jagged guitar rock sensibility, southern rock songwriting swagger (a shortened cover of “Free Bird” blends perfectly with his “The Devil Named Music”) and always keeping his country cool aesthetic. has done a lot to expand its fan base to the one that now fills baseball stadiums, whether from hell or high tides (or even just the threat of it).