“New York City!” Kacey Musgraves exclaimed after wrapping up “cherry blossom,” the third song of her set. The packed audience at Madison Square Garden responded with a deafening, sustained cheer, as she explained it was her “first time selling out this place.”
For Musgraves, who dazzled Radio City Music Hall on her last album cycle, this was a triumphant step up for the singer, from her commanding stage presence to the impressive visuals, lighting, and set design. And whether it was a bittersweet ballad like “camera roll,” a defiant, energetic cut like “breadwinner,” or a jubilant track like “Butterflies,” her pitch-perfect voice shined throughout. Here are five moments that stood out from the NYC stop of the “Star-Crossed: Unveiled” tour.
Hearts on Fire
With the spacing arenas afford, Musgraves’ team leveled up the set design for the show, evoking a grandiose theater with red velvet curtains flanked by towering columns. As the curtains slowly opened, Musgraves’ silhouette was revealed. As she opened the show with “star-crossed,” the title track of her latest album, the enormous frame of a heart dramatically lit on fire behind her, exemplifying some of the impressive set pieces the show had in store. As Musgraves reached “cherry blossom,” she was backed by dazzling floral visuals, leading the crowd in a strong call-and-response. As the track wound down, the singer gazed upwards, and a cloud of colorful confetti gently floated down on the fans.
Golden Hour Throwbacks
While star-crossed deals heavily in heartbreak inspired by divorce, Musgraves never let things get too heavy (and also leaned into the acclaimed Golden Hour, much to the crowd’s delight). The mid-set sequence involving “Butterflies,” “Space Cowboy,” and “High Horse” was especially strong.
“Butterflies” showcased a taste of Musgraves’ psychedelic influences, as she temporarily modulated her voice to have a trippy, warbled effect for the delivery of the “you brought me out of my chrysalis” line. “Space Cowboy” provided one of the most cathartic singalongs of the entire show, accented by a huge disco ball that refracted light throughout the arena. And “High Horse” gave Musgraves the opportunity to have even more calls-and-responses with the crowd, before the backing band’s guitarists gave a rollicking closing to the song.
A 10th Anniversary History Lesson
Musgraves leaned heavily on star-crossed and Golden Hour for the majority of the set. In fact, as far as her discography goes, “Merry Go ’Round,” Musgraves’ debut single that landed 10 years ago, was the only Same Trailer Different Park track on the setlist. The singer expressed how she really wanted “this song to be my first single,” yet she recalled that her label balked, saying “it’s gonna go down in flames.” Regardless, she forged ahead. “Thanks for embracing all the chapters since this one,” she said as she led the crowd in an emotional singalong.
In one of the most memorable moments of the show, Musgraves scanned the crowd to pick a fan, who would decide which cover she’d lead for a round of “Kacey-oke.” After spotting a guy who was dressed up as the star-crossed album art, Musgraves presented the options to the audience member: TLC’s “No Scrubs,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” Fugees’ take on “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” or Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” The fan decided on “9 to 5,” and, as promised, the lyrics jumped up on the screen behind the stage (but pretty much everyone in the audience knew all the words and eagerly screamed along to Musgraves’ soaring vocals).
A Hopeful Finish
While star-crossed deals with the sadness of heartbreak, Musgraves ended the show with the warmth, hope, and optimism of Golden Hour’s “Slow Burn” and “Rainbow.” After cheers of “Ka-cey! Ka-cey!” reverberated throughout the arena, Musgraves reemerged with her backing band, getting some awesome vocal harmonies on “Slow Burn.” As Musgraves wrapped up the show, she said, “You matter, your energy matters,” evoking cheers from the elated crowd. “Rainbow” showcased the very best of what an artist like Musgraves could do with an arena’s capabilities. Rainbow lasers sliced horizontally through the arena; wristbands given to crowd members bobbed and glowed in a sea of color throughout the venue; and one final, huge singalong flowed through the audience. “I hope this is the first of many sold-out Madison Square Garden shows,” Musgraves said. The eager crowd seemed ready to make that a reality for years to come.