Detroit, Michigan (May 10,2019) – Prior to the release of her debut single “My Church,” Maren Morris was content to live in the shadows as a songwriter in Nashville. The “80s Mercedes” singer made her entrance as an artist during a time when the landscape was skewed unfavorably towards women. Now, with the release of her sophomore effort “Girl”, Morris has put that same establishment on notice and her fans that packed the sold-out Fillmore Detroit, could not have been happier.
Morris’ 19-song performance began with assorted video clips while the first notes of “Girl,” were masked by the audience’s shouts of excitement. After rising from beneath the floor while being illuminated by overhead spot-lights, It became clear that this show was going to be visually stunning performance, but in a minimalist way. Starting with the new albums namesake, Morris was setting the precedent that the fans would not be soon able to forget: Women. Not just in reference to herself, but to the fulfillment and enrichment of all women.
Even though her debut album,”Hero,” brought her to the forefront of mainstream country music , Morris relied heavily on material from the new album Girl. By count, an almost a three-to-one song ratio when compared to her 2017 release Hero. Sure, all the hits that propelled her to star status made the cut on Saturday, “80’s Mercedes,” “My Church” and the crowd sing-a-long favorite “Rich” which found the capacity crowd singing back with such volume it stopped Morris mid song. But this was also a fan base that knew the new material so well, that the response to the opening of “The Bones” was so overwhelming, a casual fan might mistaken the riffs for an older single!
One of the more playful moments occurred during “All My Favorite People” when RaeLynn, who opened for Morris, returned to the stage for a rowdy duet. It was like a Texas Two-step of musically charged estrogen. Morris, Raelyn (who had her new puppy in a carrier strapped across her chest) and all the guitarists lined up for a good ole’fashion jam. When the decibel level finally dropped at the end of the song to an acceptable level, Morris humorously quipped,“This was a first for me.Ive never sang with a puppy live before and I did it in Detroit”
But Morris was arguably at her best and most theatric on two R&B influenced songs from Girl. During the seductive “Make Out With Me,” Morris lay prone on the staircase at the rear of the stage as if indulging in a self-fulfilling fantasy. For the sultry “RSVP”, the one track that pushes the envelope of contemporary/urban pop music, a prop chair was used to dramatize a strong sexual innuendo that made even the most argent fan a little uncomfortable. Morris didn’t go any further though, but it was a routine that highlighted her multi faceted talent both vocally and dramatically.
Morris closed the show with “The Middle,” a huge hit she collaborated on with Zedd and Grey. It is a relatively simple, repetitive song, but a tune with a monster melodic hook. Morris and the audience not only met in “the middle,” they went all in for each other. The crowd loved the performance and it capped off a vibrant night of music from the entertaining Maren Morris.
Should we be thinking of Maren Morris as a country star or an emerging pop star? There is no hiding the fact that her music has a healthy dose of both genres with a little R&B thrown in for good measure. She has the chops to sing just about any genre and be immensely successful when she does. Will she be the next “Taylor Swift” who is able to bridge the gap between country and pop genres? We cant answer that right now but based on what we witnessed tonight and song choices on her new LP Girl, we wouldn’t bet against it.