STAPLETON SCORCHES ALLENTOWN – Story & Photographs by Diane Fleischman

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Story & Photographs by Diane Fleischman


A mother with her two young boys stood in the front row of the PPL Center. She flew in from Los Angeles to be a part of the opening performance of the summer leg of the Chris Stapleton tour Tuesday night. For her, and the sold out crowd, they would need to patiently wait through two opening bands before Stapleton took the stage.

The Marcus King Band started the music off. Armed with a southern rock sound and featured a heavy guitar edge. The front man was full of emotion on his guitar as he often grimaced through the reach of each note.

Margo Price followed, she wore a flowing white summer maxi dress. She was genuinely excited to be there, and announced early in her set that she just had a baby four weeks ago. Her style was more traditional, and covered the stage well, however, there were plenty of moments where she just cut loose on her acoustic guitar.

After a brief intermission, the anticipation was building as Chris Stapleton walked across the dark stage. For over a decade, Stapleton has worked meticulously to carve his name, his passion, and his music across the world. And while the novice listener may think his music generally fits into a nice neat box of the country music genre, most fans would agree to something different. He’s been known to collaborate with some of the country’s most popular performers such as Brent Cobb, as they performed a rock duet ballad of the AC/DC hit “You Shook Me All Night Long”, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Peter Frampton, The Eagles, and most recently Ed Sheeran, and Bruno Mars.

Onstage, Stapleton performed with a fireball of emotions. Sure, he’s a great country artist, but he also possesses this rawness of a wound scraped open with a layer of gravel on top. Every so often you can feel this blues inflection, the gristle and rasp in his voice as if it takes every ounce of his being to drive the lyric out.

The set contained a good mix of his three albums, but his debut solo release, ‘Traveller’, dominated the show. There was no doubt the fans loved the performance as they sang along from the first song.

The crowd favorites included “Nobody to Blame”, “Parachute”, “I Was Wrong”, “Whiskey and You”, which gave the band a needed break as Stapleton remained on stage alone. The band rejoined for “Traveller” and also included “Broken Halos.”

The Chris Stapleton tour continues throughout the year. The PPL Center continues with more concerts to rock your summer! Check the schedule at www.pplcenter.com.