Maren Morris Gives 2 Sold Out Nights At The Wiltern The Stadium Treatment The Country Pop Diva And Her Fans Are Is Ready For Bigger Venues And Bigger Shows
LOS ANGELES, CA- This past weekend, Nashville singer-songwriter Maren Morris brought her “Girl” world tour to the Wiltern Theatre for not just one, but two sold out shows. A pretty impressive accomplishment, considering that these shows marked her first headlining gigs in LA and her newest album just dropped a few weeks ago. Judging by the turnout, I imagine it’s the first of many more to come, although if her rising popularity is any indication, I think she will be outgrowing the Wiltern’s capacity very soon. In fact, it was just announced that she will headline a show at the Greek Theatre later this year so the spurt is already happening. Look out Taylor Swift, there’s a new country pop star in town! (Okay I know Tay Tay is untouchable, but that is where I can see Ms. Morris’ career heading so settle down Swifties! )
I’ve seen a ton of shows at the Wiltern and, while the marquee may indicate that the event is ‘Sold Out’, there always seems to be space and lines aren’t outrageous … this show was legit SOLD OUT. It was packed with eager fans (mostly female “90’s babies”) and even though Morris’ second album was just released prior to the show, you’d never have guessed it.
Following a solid performance Cassadee Pope, the crowd was definitely ready for Morris. As the lights dimmed, a neon crown lit up the back of the stage as fans hollered in anticipation for what was to come. The opening guitar riffs of “Girl” filled the venue and Morris’ silhouette appeared, slowly rising up to the top of a staircase to take her throne. Strumming her white Les Paul guitar and dressed in a neon yellow shirt, sparkly blue shorts and rhinestone boots (an outfit that perfectly represents her country/pop hybrid style), Morris couldn’t have picked a better song to open the night with than the empowering title track. The anthemic song had everyone nodding along. “Baby girl, don’t you hang your head low, Don’t you lose your halo, Everyone’s gonna be okay…” and everyone was more than okay. They were damn right living!
“It’s crazy that people already know the words when the album was just released. I’m still learning the words!” Morris playfully told the crowd. Clearly, Morris’ fans are quick at studying because it was true, there was never a quiet moment. The fans sang along the entire night. Just more proof of Morris’ star potential. The enthusiastic millennials probably failed their mid-terms, but they sure as hell aced the Maren Morris lyrics test!
The show itself felt like a mini stadium performance, with better than normal production value than you usually get at a mid sized venue. The stage design was impressive, with a massive video screen, interactive videos, neon stairs, flashy strobes and even cotton candy scented bubbles that floated over the crowd during songs like the upbeat popular song “80’s Mercedes.” Morris reflected about being on the tour bus, writing songs and listening to her favorite bands from high school and how that inspired “There’s a Song For Everything.” The song celebrates the connection between music and memories. And of course, her lyrics are totally true- music can take you back to exact moments, smells, tastes, touches even- but the line “My first lighter up, was back when Coldplay still played clubs” had me scratching my head- I’m pretty sure when Coldplay was playing clubs, 8 year old Morris was not holding a lighter up at a club- or maybe she just had a really good fake ID…regardless of how truthful the lyrics may be, it’s still a fun, relatable song.
One of the biggest highlights of the show came early on in the night, when Morris performed “Common” and after the first verse, surprised fans by welcoming pop star JoJo to the stage to help her out. The album version features Brandi Carlile so bringing someone out like JoJo was totally unexpected and had the fans in a frenzy. It was nice to see the warm greeting and enthusiasm the crowd had for JoJo. JoJo wore a black boxer type of robe with knee high boots that read “For Walking.” Perhaps this was her way of saying she was ready to strut back into the pop world ring. Judging by the cheers, fans are ready for her to rumble again as well!
After performing “Common”, JoJo stayed on stage for a duet version of her most popular song, the 2006 hit “Too Little, Too Late.” The crowd cheered wildly in approval. Watching the two stars sing each others songs on stage was a sweet moment and you could sense that they may be friends in real life, which would make sense considering both singers are the same age and if it wasn’t for the stark contrast in colors of their outfits, it would even be hard to know who was who. It was like watching two besties having a sing along on stage. Adorable. And a moment I was super happy I got to witness.
For the country rock hell-raiser “All My Favorite People,” Morris welcomed Cassadee Pope back to the stage to help sing along for the standout track that usually features vocals by The Brothers Osbourne. This song is one of my favorites. It’s so easy to sing along to and just puts you in a good mood. And of course the fact that it’s totally reminiscent to Dolly Parton’s catchy classic 9 to 5, doesn’t hurt! I mean, who doesn’t love that song? It’s the type of song that you sing out-loud with friends.
Morris told a story about an experience she had while doing a meet and greet at a radio station, and one of the program directors advised her to not release a ballad because ‘people don’t want to hear sad women on the radio’. The crowd booed. “Yea, you can boo him, he sucks,” Morris laughed. The song she was referring to was “I Could Use a Love Song.” Morris obviously didn’t take his advice and continued, “I put the song out anyway, and it took 42 weeks, but this was my first number one song- and that guy got fired. So the universe is kinda funny sometimes.” Ahh, don’t we all love hearing those kind of sweet revenge stories!
Morris focused mostly on her new album’s tracks and she mused over the fact that she must’ve wrote at least 50 songs when making this record. She talked about how it’s always hard to narrow it down to an albums length of songs because “songs are like your babies and well, we all think are babies are cute,” she giggled. And the crowd did not seem to mind one bit to hear all the new little babes. In fact songs like, “The Bones” elicited some of the biggest fan reactions and as Morris stood center stage, playing her acoustic guitar, her star power shined ever so brightly. This track seems destined to be a hit. Of course she did include a few older favorites in the set, such as the bubbly jam, “Rich” and the song that she said had the biggest impact on her career, the folky group singalong, “My Church,” which she chose to end her pre encore set with.
Morris took a quick break before returning to the stage for a two song encore. First up was “Shade” before she closed the night playing the obvious choice- her collaboration with Zedd and Gray, the monster hit, “The Middle.” The whole place was dancing and singing along, those candy scented bubbles filling the building yet again. It was a party of epic proportions and I’m so happy I was able to see Morris perform before she starts selling out stadiums, which I imagine will be happening sooner than later. If you missed Maren Morris this time around in LA, fear not, she will return on September 14th for a show at The Greek Theatre.