Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
ut of the three-day span Stagecoach 2022 had scheduled, the Friday opener offered the fewest must-see artists. This allowed attendees a chance to get comfortable with the lay of the land, as festival grounds had changed significantly from past events. Furthermore, two of the Friday headliners (Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris) each seem to have trouble deciding if they really want to be country performers (and not pop artists). Nevertheless, there were a few performances that stood out, and in all the best ways.
Tanya Tucker was cowgirl queen for the day during her evening set. Her performance was broken up by long and loud audience applause a few times, which clearly moved the veteran performer. She sang the hits, including "Strong Enough to Bend," told stories, advertised her liquor brand and even Facetimed with Brandi Carlile, who was set to perform, but had to cancel due to COVID. This was like a live lifetime achievement presentation and just wonderful all around.
Previously, Stagecoach sported two side stages, adjacent to the main (or Mane) stage. Not so now, though. Just the Palomino side stage, and a fewer extremely smaller performance spaces, in addition to the main venue. Previously, fans of the more adventurous side stage artists could simply bounce back and forth between the two tents. No longer so, though, as time spent out in the Mane's hot sun was now necessary.
In addition to Tucker, The Marcus King Band, with its blues and jam band tendencies, gave a lively performance. The Cactus Blossoms' lovely harmonies also went over especially well. Amythyst Kiah, who kicked off the festival at the Palomino, was likely a revelation to many. Although not especially country sounding, Kiah, who is part of Our Native Daughters with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell, presented a strong, confident presence.
Midland, with a little surprise guest help from Jon Pardi, was worth the Mane stage trek, as their smart, sometimes retro country sounds, never fail to please.
Ingrid Andress had a story for nearly every song she sang, during at setlist that included standouts, like "Lady Like" and "More Hearts Than Mine."
Ryan Hurd received added applause when he brough his wife, Morris, to sing their duet "Chasing After You."
Although Friday contained the most meh reactions to its lineup, there were enough true standouts to make the day a good one.