CONCERT REVIEW: Chris Stapleton and his All American Roadshow pack Spokane Arena for a winning night of country

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Chris Stapleton packed the Spokane Arena Thursday. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Chris Stapleton packed the Spokane Arena Thursday.

If Chris Stapleton is the future of country music, it sounds a whole lot like the best moments of the genre's past, and for that we can all be thankful.

The fact that an artist like Stapleton can fill the Spokane Arena is heartening to people, myself included, frustrated that much of the most popular country music on the radio and America's concert stages seems to be all beaches, beers and bros. In Stapleton, we actually have a massively popular act who is also a kickass songwriter and live performer who doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles to deliver a memorable show.

That fact was on display Thursday at his All American Roadshow stop in Spokane, where Stapleton was joined by openers Brent Cobb and Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives for a night of country how it used to be — ballads soaked in whiskey and heartbreak, honky tonk stompers with searing instrumental breakdowns and a stage show based simply on killer bands knocking out great song after great song.

Chris Stapleton and his band enoyed a simple stage set. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Chris Stapleton and his band enoyed a simple stage set.

Stapleton's set was filled with songs from his 2015 breakthrough album Traveller and his two From A Room collections from 2017, and the audience gladly sang along to everything, from "Broken Halos" to "Nobody to Blame" to "Whiskey and You." It was particularly stirring when Stapleton had the band go silent and the crowd fire up its lighters and cell phones to collectively sing the chorus to "Fire Away."

This was my first time seeing Stapleton, and both his guitar work and his singing are impressive. He's got a supple voice capable of a gorgeous croon as well as a rough growl. He also brings some great friends along for the ride; besides having both openers join him at various points of the night, Willie Nelson's long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael played with Stapleton's band throughout.

The two Stuart songs he joined Stapleton for were both highlights of Stapleton's set ("Now That's Country," "Honky Tonkin' Is What I Do Best"), as were Stapleton's opening "Midnight Train to Memphis" and "Traveller."

Marty Stuart is a country historian, and that comes thorugh in his concerts. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Marty Stuart is a country historian, and that comes thorugh in his concerts.

Both openers were worthy inclusions in the All American Roadshow lineup.

Marty Stuart's been playing on stages large and small since the early '70s, and he and his Fabulous Superlatives packed their time on stage with lots of guitar solos, mean covers of "Ring of Fire" and "Orange Blossom Special," "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" and a stunning closer in "Time Don't Wait."

Brent Cobb, the young up-and-comer on the bill, delivered a solid half-hour of rootsy country to open the night, including a few songs from his new Providence Canyon album, an excellent version of his "King of Alabama" and a nice closer in "Ain't a Road Too Long."

Here are a few more photos from the show:
Lighting changes were all the "special effects" on display at Chris Stapleton's show. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Lighting changes were all the "special effects" on display at Chris Stapleton's show.

Marty Stuart and two of his Fabulous Superlatives. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Marty Stuart and two of his Fabulous Superlatives.

Brent Cobb played a strong half-hour set to open the All American Roadshow. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Brent Cobb played a strong half-hour set to open the All American Roadshow.