Commanding yet humble, and performing behind his signature tumbleweed-sized beard, Chris Stapleton headlined his All-American Road Show at Darien Lake Amphitheater on Thursday.
The triple bill, that included the huge talents of Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives and Brent Cobb, featured material hitting on various genres: blues, rock, hillbilly and "country and western."
Darien Lake sources said the show was not sold out, yet the place looked packed. The full moon, buttery yellow and noted by the headliner, might have supplemented the pre-weekend party vibe.
Stapleton and his incredible three bandmates, all dressed in black, opened with one of the singer-songwriter's hits, "Midnight Train to Memphis." This tune, about 40 days in jail with time for listening to those trains, was one of Stapleton's creations while with bluegrass band The SteelDrivers. The song was re-recorded last year for his third solo chart-topping release, "From a Room: Volume 2."
"We have some singers here!" Stapleton shouted as he listened to the crowd joining on solace song "Fire Away." "It makes me think we're gonna do that chorus one more time." The band – and audience – re-finished it mightily after Stapleton directed all to sing so loudly "that they'll hear us three states over."
Introducing it as a song he "Once played in every dive bar in the country," Stapleton played ultra-blue "Whiskey and You," solo and acoustically. Afterward, it was back to snarling electric guitars for "Traveler" and, later, "Freebird/Devil Named Music."
Performing in the show's middle slot, Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives bound onstage in an explosion of country energy, singing songs of love and whiskey.
After their second song, Stuart jokingly raised his arm in the air and shout "Good night!" before his "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'." The band's covers of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and Johnny Cash's iconic "Ring of Fire" were grand.
Chris Stapleton, Marty Stuart, Brent Cobb
Thursday at Darien Lake Amphitheatre
More to see: