By the Way

Chris Stapleton rocked Biloxi — were you there?

Chris Stapleton performs during the CMT Artists of the Year awards show at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Wednesday in Nashville. Stapleton performed Thursday in Biloxi at the Coast Coliseum.
Chris Stapleton performs during the CMT Artists of the Year awards show at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Wednesday in Nashville. Stapleton performed Thursday in Biloxi at the Coast Coliseum. Invision/AP

If you plan to see Chris Stapleton live at some point, make sure you have someone to take with you to the show.

As Stapleton’s sold-out show Thursday night at the Coast Coliseum proved, there are so many “wow” moments that you need to have someone to turn to and say, “Did you just see/hear that? Wow.”

My partner in crime was my friend of almost 25 years, Mobile restaurateur Noell Broughton. Noell owns a ton of restaurants and bars in Mobile including the Bone and Barrel in Fairhope. He’s also a movie star, as he is one of the people featured in the documentary “Limo Ride.”

Noell and I have seen a lot of music together and he was happy to make the trek from Mobile to Biloxi.

Barn burner

Soul was the word of the night Thursday as Stapleton delivered one of the most soulful shows to hit the Coast in a long a time. His opening act, Athens, Alabama, native Anderson East also brought his brand of retro soul, which included a cover of Faces’ “Stay With Me.”

Stapleton opened the show with “Nobody to Blame” from his critically acclaimed album “The Traveler.” And it was a no-frills rock show with Stapleton on guitar, drummer Derek Mixon, bassist JT Cure and Stapleton’s wife, Morgane, singing backup.

It’s important to note although Stapleton has found great success as a country singer/songwriter, his live show has just as much in common with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Hill Country blues of RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I had no idea Stapleton is such a great guitarist.

Then there’s the voice. Stapleton has the ability to go from a whisper to a scream in about two seconds. If Otis Redding listened to Guns N’ Roses and played country music for a living, I imagine he would sound something like Stapleton does live.

Though the set relied heavily on tracks from “The Traveler,” Stapleton peppered it with covers throughout the night including a rocking version of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How it Feels” and a haunting version of the Waylon Jennings classic “Amanda.”

Morgane did her powerful, hypnotizing version of “You Are My Sunshine” and had the crowd worked into a frenzy by its end.

The Biloxi crowd loved Chris Stapleton and he genuinely seemed to be having a good time. There may be no greater feeling than seeing 10,000 people light up their phones and sing the chorus of “Fire Away” in unison.

Epilogue

I talked to Noell about the show as we walked across the parking lot of the Coliseum. Noell was also at the recent Guns N’ Roses show in New Orleans. We pontificated about what it must have been like to have seen Stapleton open for GNR at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. We agreed the people who saw GNR and Chris Stapleton on the same stage saw the best rock show in modern history.

After the show ended and I had parted ways with Noell, I was driving home just before midnight, longing to be home with my son, Charlie, and my wife. In those quiet moments on my way home to my family, who had long been asleep, I thought about Stapleton’s stirring performance of “The Devil Named Music,” especially the lyrics, “I miss my son; I miss my wife, but the devil named music has taken my life.”

I can’t speculate that everyone had that feeling as they left the show, but I can pretty much assure you no one will soon forget the night Chris Stapleton played Biloxi.

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