By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Oct 09, 2022 at 11:56 AM

Sunday may've marked an early morning with the London Packers game, but that didn't stop Milwaukee from going out late to savor the latest stop from country star Chris Stapleton. 

Bringing his "All-American Road Show" to Brew City, Stapleton mesmerized the Fiserv Forum crowd across two hours, filling the arena with wildfire guitar licks, whiskey-like warmth and the textured soul-rich country blues that made him a regular Grammys favorite. 

Here are eight of the highlights from another searing yet soothing shot served up from the "Tennessee Whiskey" singer. 

1. A slightly different show 

It's been barely more than a year since the soulful country singer last strummed into Milwaukee – with no new album in between – so for fans double-dipping the two concerts, they knew they were probably getting an excellent show but maybe not many surprises on the setlist. And indeed, there weren't many new entrants to the setlist on Saturday night – just the slow jams "What Are You Listening To?" and "Joy of My Life" – but there was enough jostling of the lineup ("Whiskey and You," for instance, moved out of the opener spot to begin now with "Nobody to Blame") to make everything feel fresh and keep the standards satisfying. 

2. Engaging interactions

Stapleton said it pretty much straight-up on Saturday night: He wasn't going to talk much. After his opening batch of "Nobody to Blame," "Parachute" and "Second One to Know," Stapleton thanked the crowd and said he was going to focus on giving them as much music as the band could. With a 22-song, two-hour set, the country star delivered on that promise – but was also a little chattier than he let on. After "Worry B Gone," he dryly told an loudly enamored fan that he loved them too ... and thanks for screaming about it. A little later, after wrapping up the intimate ballad "What Are You Listening To?", Stapleton joked with the crowd that the song shot up the country charts ... to just number 46. Add in his classic method of introducing his band, crooning their names and hometowns into the medley of "Tennessee Whiskey," and you had a pleasantly personable night in between all of the excellent music. 

3. Slowin' it down

Chris StapletonX

Normally when a musician slows it down and plays their ballads, the crowd typically disengages, everyone takes advantage of a drink or bathroom break, and it's often a buzzkill. That wasn't the case Saturday night at Fiserv Forum. Near the middle of the set, Stapleton took the stage solo and settled things down with "What Are You Listening To?" – a modest ballad and even more modest success from early in his career – a stirring stripped-down rendition of "Traveller" and the tender and raw love song "Whiskey and You." The country singer basically apologized to the crowd by saying he'd cut it out with the slow stuff after "Whiskey and You" – but considering the almost sacred, magnitized hush that washed over the rapt crowd during the segment, the emotion both intimate and playing to the back of the giant room, no apology necessary. 

4. "Free Bird"

Loud drunk guys demanding "Free Bird": Rejoice, because at Chris Stapleton shows, you finally get what you ask for. Well, a little of it. Before launching into "The Devil Named Music" at the start the final act, Stapleton gave the crowd a taste of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic before dreamily melding it into his own tune. Sure, it's one of the ultimate concert cliches – but the Grammy winner is one of the few artists who can pull it off and make it sound like a searingly soulful part of his own catalogue of hits, performed not like it's a cover but a deeply felt song pulled from his core. To top it off with the slowly building and barreling howl of "The Devil Named Music" somehow makes an iconic song even better. 

5. "Fire Away"

At some point, Stapleton's signature move of ending "Fire Away" by letting the crowd take over for a final chorus, exclusively lit by a twinkling sky of cell phone flashlights, isn't going to have the same mesmerizing, emotional punch. But that point sure wasn't Saturday night. Coming near the end of the evening, the sight of the entire Fiserv Forum glowing at full brightness without a light on in the bowl and cooing the ballad out into the night is still a warm and wondrous musical moment, a soothing communal statement before leading into the final rock-out jam sessions on the setlist. 

6. Paying tribute

Chris StapletonX

Wisconsin sure does love opening up to Chris Stapleton at his Brew City shows – says something about the warm, comforting energy of his music and his presence. At his last Summerfest gig, a sign celebrating a dearly departed friend earned a shoutout and an autograph from the performers – and at this latest show, during the penultimate song "Broken Halos," a fan in the crowd passed what appeared to be either a prayer card or photo of someone dear up to Morgane Stapleton on stage, who spent most of the song holding the remembrance close to her heart and up in the air. It was already a special night for Stapleton fans in attendance – but especially for that fan with that final grace note. 

7. "Outlaw State of Mind"

Chris StapletonX

Listen, I understand that the mandated encore rigmarole is annoying in this modern time and that, after about two hours taking the stage a little after 9 p.m., it was a late night with an early Packers game the next day. But I was stupefied by the not-insignificant amount of folks leaving before – and even during – the encore. Sure, Stapleton pretty much always saves "Outlaw State of Mind" for last, so there's not much surprise to the finale – but even if you've seen Stapleton several times and know some of the routines, the song still serves as a perfect closer, a satisfying rolling thunderstorm of a hit that ends each show with an awesome jam session and a final roaring note echoing into the night.

8. Outstanding openers

Elle KingX

Obviously Stapleton was the main event, but those who arrived closer to the time on the ticket got a bonus excellent show thanks to the two great opening acts. Morgan Wade warmed up the responsive Fiserv Forum crowd with a short collection of high-quality raw country rollicks, followed by Elle King who's a headliner in her own right at this point. Blasting out a barrage of giddily rowdy hits – including her breakout smash "Ex's & Oh's" and "Drunk (And I Don't Wanna Go Home)" – in between casual vapes, calling an old unsupportive teacher a b*tch, re-litigating her famous lineage and proclaiming her love for the crowd with a sweet-tart kick. Between their two efforts, the night was already off to an outstanding start before it seemingly began.


"Nobody to Blame"
"Second One to Know"
"Starting Over"
"Hard Livin'"
"Worry B Gone"
"What Are You Listening To?"
"Whiskey and You"
"You Should Probably Leave"
"Midnight Train to Memphis"
"Might As Well Be Stoned"
"The Devil Named Music"
"I Was Wrong"
"Joy of My Life"
"Fire Away"
"Broken Halos"
"Tennessee Whiskey"

"Outlaw State of Mind"

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.