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Morris presents study in contradiction

Stage AE Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA., April 25, 2019

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

A Maren Morris show is a study in contradiction. She is a small woman with a big voice. The diminutive performer packs an arena-sized punch into a 2,300-seat venue. She has massive number one hits in country and pop, but her vocal stylings go unexpectedly deeper. Wielding a white electric guitar, she descended from a large illuminated staircase with the title track from "Girl" and slinked around it like Cher throughout the evening.

At one point, she performed lying down on the riser for the jazzy "Make Out With Me." There would be little time for such breathers. The majority of the set was a full throttle auditory EDM style assault which saw Morris' vocals shine through Annie Clements' (formerly with Sugarland) slap bass and Christian Paschall's heavily mic'ed drum kit.

Most of the set was from the new album and judging from the (largely female) crowd sing-alongs on almost every new number it was apparent how the album smashed streaming records.

Exclaiming "Okay Pittsburgh, let's do this" to kick off "All My Favorite People," a duet on the record with Brothers Osborne, it was one of the few songs with a true country feel. The sassy "Rich" fits the country bill mostly because of how Morris performs it - Dolly style donned in sequins with a whole lot of attitude in double-time Texas two-step.

The new album is a showcase for her versatility. On "Gold Love," you hear R&B. On "Common," she goes gospel. She predictably closed the show with the Grammy-winning anthem "My Church" and a double encore that began with a moving video for "Shade" and, of course, ended with a high decibel version of "The Middle" while confetti blew throughout the venue.

Country cutie RaeLynn made it clear to the audience what her role was. "I'm here to get you pumped up for the Queen, Maren Morris. The former Voice contestant packed a tight seven-song set into her allotted 30-minute slot leading off with her hit "God Made Girls" and tales to introduce the party starter "Rowdy" and "Tailgate." She would return to perform "All My Favorite People" with Morris.

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