Chris Stapleton hits Arlington in flawless fighting form. Intimate, enthralling, bare bones

Every now and again, America gets it right.

It’s not often that music artists can go from near anonymity to touring arenas and then stadiums without at least a decade’s worth of music behind them.

Chris Stapleton didn’t have to wait that long, thanks to his 2015 smash debut “Traveler.”

The singer/songwriter was back in North Texas for his All-American Road Show tour at a packed Globe Life Field Saturday night, filling the ballpark with his weathered tenor, six-piece band, and their southern-fried country rock.

The stage, set up in center field, was simple. Two large videoboards stood on either side of the stage, and another widescreen videoboard stretched above the stage. Their only purpose was to give fans at the back and top of Globe Life Field a better view of the action. There were no graphics, video montages, or trippy images flashed on the screens.

In fact, except for a few colored stage lights, no concert theatrics were used during the two-hour, 15-minute show.

And guess what? The 40,000 or so in attendance were entranced the entire night. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to concert theatrics, especially when they’re used to serve the songs.


[ Here’s the setlist for the Chris Stapleton concert at Globe Life Field Saturday, JUne 15 ]

It comes as a breath of fresh air, however, when a contemporary music act such as Stapleton can fill a stadium with a bare bones performance and leave his fans thrilled.

His 26-song set was evenly split between his five studio albums, the last of which, “Higher,” was released in November. Stapleton, wearing a well-creased Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hat, black dress shirt and black pants, set the tone early in his set.

“I’m not going to do too much talking so we can play as many songs in the time that we have,” he said to cheers.

He kept his word. He didn’t say much.

Even his band introductions were sung with mini-bios for each member, including his wife and backup singer Morgane Stapleton. His band, including drummer Derek Mixon, bassist J.T. Cure, guitarist Mike Eli LoPinto, keyboardist Lee Pardin, steel guitarist Paul Franklin, and harmonica player Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson’s longtime player), provided a pristine-sounding machine behind Stapleton. The sound, even in the cavernous, closed-roof Globe Life Field, was flawless.

In fact, seldom has a stadium show sounded so crisp and flawless. Hats off to Stapleton and his band, but also to the acoustic engineering that went into Globe Life Field.

Stapleton opened the show with the guitar-soaring “White Horse,” a track from “Higher,” but the show was far from a showoff session of Stapleton’s latest batch of songs. It was one of four songs he performed from “Higher,” including the live debut of “What Am I Gonna Do.”

The set included seven tracks from “Traveler,” five tracks from 2020’s “Starting Over,” and five songs total from his 2017 tandem release “From A Room: Volume 1 and Volume 2.”

He also peppered the set with four covers and a glorious rendition of “Midnight Train To Memphis,” a song he co-wrote with his previous band, The SteelDrivers. They did admirable versions of John Fogerty’s “Joy Of My Life” and Tom Petty’s “I Should Have Known It.” For the latter, opening act Marcus King joined in for a ripping guitar flourish.

That bled into the one-two punch of “Arkansas” and “Midnight Train to Memphis,” two of Stapleton’s most piercing rockers that nearly completely shed any pretense of country music.

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who played a fine hour-long set of blues rock ahead of Stapleton, joined him for the bluesy dirge “I Was Wrong.”

Towards the end of the main set, he hit us again with another one-two punch from his debut, “Traveller” and “Fire Away.” At one point, he had the crowd light up their phones and sing the final verse of “Fire Away,” one of the more complicated songs about relationships and unconditional love you’ll ever hear.

Stapleton seemed genuinely moved by the crowd singing his lyrics back to him, the ballpark aglow with 30,000 phones.

“Take your best shot, show me what you got, honey, I’m not afraid, rear back and take aim, and fire away,” they sang.

It was a beautifully intimate goosebump-inducing moment. No fireworks necessary.

This was the 22nd show of Stapleton’s 2024 North American tour, which concludes at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Aug. 24.

So it’s no surprise that Stapleton and band hit Arlington in flawless fighting form.

Sure, the place would have erupted if Stapleton showed up for the two-song encore in a Texas Rangers jersey, but he didn’t need it.

“Might as Well Get Stoned” and “Outlaw State of Mind” closed the show in style.

The songs didn’t need any help. His music was more than enough to keep the crowd enthralled, even at the back of the stadium.