Royal Oak,Michigan (December 19,2021)-Some may refer to him as a unicorn in that Mitchell Tenpenny is one of the very rare Country artists that were actually born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Tenpenny released his first album in 2015 but it was off the back of his Riser House/ Columbia Nashville 2018 label debut ,’Telling All My Secrets’ along with the platinum certified, number one play list single, “Drunk Me,” that quickly lead to him becoming one of the genres fastest rising stars.
Writing and performing his own music is a dream Tenpenny has been chasing since his teens, before becoming college roommates at Middle Tennessee State University with fellow songwriter Brad Clawson (son of hit country music writer Rodney Clawson). The two began playing the local club scene and writing songs with aspirations of becoming Nashville mainstays. Tenpenny wisely traded his time as a drummer and self-professed “lead screamer” in metal bands for growing desires of a career in country music. That early foresight has come to full fruition in 2021 with the acclaimed “Midtown Diaries,” the follow-up release to Tenpenny’s debut album “Telling All My Secrets,” and a well timed fall headlining tour aptly titled, To Us It Did.
Saturday night the Royal Oak Music Theater played host to the final night of the 12 city tour that coincided with the release of Tenpenny’s latest EP, ‘Midtown Diaries.’ Fans for the sold-out, general admission show lined up hours in advance clamoring to be the first in the venues doors hoping to lay claim to the best viewing spots nearest the stage. As the show time approached, the venues air was electric with the sights and sounds of Christmas along with the added anticipation of Mitchell Tenpenny’s only Michigan area performance of the year.
When the house lights dimmed at 9:20, the fans growing anxiety over the extended wait was instantly lifted as the first fews chords of “To Us It Did” permeated the historic venue. The recently engaged Tenpenny soon followed sporting an ear to ear grin while working through the lyrics in his familiar style with minimal flair. If you are going to see Mitchell Tenpenny live expecting an over the top stage presentation, I’m sorry to be the one to disappoint you but It’s just not going to happen. Conversely, what you are going to see and hear is 18 cuts of modern country hits from one of the most distinctive voices currently in music with a presentation chocked full of content and minimal fluff.
The 2019 ACM New Male Artist of the year kept his momentum going throughout the 95 minute set performing a generous selection of cuts from ‘Telling All My Secrets’ including the hit “Alcohol You Later,” plus the song that started it all for the Nashville native, the ever-popular “Drunk Me.” Tenpenny also showed some love towards his fan by also performing four selections off his most current release ‘Midtown Diaries.’ Most notable was “Truth About You,” a song released to streaming services in July. Ironically, within days of its release, “Truth About You,” was streamed more than 1.4 million times to make it the largest streaming debut of his career. Based on the energy from the fans singing back at Tenpenny and his band, it’s obvious he has hit on something big once again.
Being a relatively new comer to the genre, Tenpenny’s catalog isn’t as prolific as most established artists, thus he must choose from collaborations, his personal one-offs along with other artists work to complete a headlining setlist. Tonights covers included an inspirational take on Blake Shelton’s “Ol’ Red” and Colt Ford’s “Slow Ride,” that fit in seamlessly within the overall performance. Surprisingly, one of the bigger crowd pleasers of the night was the current radio hit “Anything She Says,” a cut that features country newcomers Seaforth. Tenpenny’s low keyed vocals lend a distinctive range to the song that works perfectly with the featured harmonies while providing credence to his own lyrical versatility.
Being the last show of the tour there were lots of smiles and playful interactions between Tenpenny, his band and the fans who packed the Royal Oak Music Theater Saturday night. There were songs that had fans singing back at the stage with as much emotion and volume that it matched and often exceeded what was coming from the stage. Other, less energetic songs found couples holding each other swaying back and forth while listening intently to the mesmerizing lyrics.
Before the final song of the night,Tenpenny explained the forthcoming lyrics with a little disclaimer, “I don’t mean to offend anybody but if I do, I don’t give a shit… this song isn’t about calling girls bitches or guys bitches…it’s about calling bitches, bitches”. With that being said, the audience laughed then sang every word back to the singer-songwriter who was clearly revelling in the moment. If that’s the perceived controversy with the song, I’d be willing to bet any artist would welcome their version of it with open arms at every performance.
Mitchell Tenpenny, for all intensive purposes, is one of the more exciting male artists currently in country music. He consistently churns out hit after hit with a vocal delivery and sound that are uniquely his with lyrics that are a step away from those that made the genre. For now he’s building a solid reputation with his brand of music and once he can get back to a full scale extended tour, we are certain he’s going to build a significant fanbase. As the smiling fans filed out out into the cold, dark evening we overheard a couple talking; “Hey was that a typical Country show?” “No,that was Mitchell Tenpenny who sings about what’s real!” “Never heard of him before tonight but I’m a fan now!” After Mitchel Tenpenny’s performance Saturday night,we would lay odds that wasn’t the only conversation that contained that verbiage. Yes,his shows are THAT good. Don’t take our word,go see for yourself in 2022!
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