Cowboy hats and glitter jacket-wearing fans lined up early outside The Agora theater on March 15, knowing that an early arrival time would be necessary to catch a prime spot to the sold-out show of pop-country songstress, Kelsea Ballerini. Although no stranger to Cleveland (having been through town as a support act for country megastar Keith Urban and pop sensations Jonas Brothers), Kelsea is taking the stage for the first time in a headlining role. Perhaps she should have set loftier goals herself when her booking agent selected the 2,000-capacity Agora, seeing as how every last available ticket was spoken for the same day they went on sale and resale value exceeded $100 per ticket.
Distguinishing the crowd from a run-of-the-mill country audience to Ballerini’s people were shirts that read: “yeah, sure, okay” in celebration of the lyrics to her song, “Blindsided,” which she included in her recent Saturday Night Live performance.
The gorgeous 29-year-old is supporting both her fourth studio album, 2022’s ‘Heartfirst”‘as well as her February 2023 EP, ‘Rolling Up the Welcome Mat’, the latter of which is loaded with themes from her recent divorce with her fellow country star, Morgan Evans.
Fans were eager to hear new songs and scream the lyrics to some of their past favorites.
The night kicked off with “Subject to Change” as Ballerini took the stage in a flowing yellow dress, dancing and smiling at the fans who had been waiting all day to see her. During her second song, “The Little Things” fans held up colorful paper butterflies as Kelsea sang the lyrics, “Give me that typical, simple love, it’s the little things.”
After dancing around in her stunning yellow dress, Ballerini had multiple outfit changes throughout the night, ranging from a sequin romper with a matching cowboy hat, to a full-piece black jumpsuit. The outfits matched the vibe of her music, from upbeat country jams like “You’re Drunk, Go Home” and “hole in the bottle” that made one feel like they were dancing at a Nashville bar, to slow-burn emotional songs like “Penthouse” and “Homecoming Queen.” She had an outfit for every vibe. Her outfits were as diverse as the songs that span her discography.
During her encore, Ballerini appeared in a box on the balcony level and sang “Leave Me Again” (from the new EP), armed with only her acoustic guitar. Fans belted the lyrics, drowning out Ballerini’s voice and making her feel comforted as she spilled her heartbreaking lyrics.
After that, wanting to connect even more with the crowd, Ballerini paraded through the venue singing “Muscle Memory,” during which she took photos with fans, held their hands, and danced her way around the room. How refreshing is it to see such a sight with COVID memories lingering in the not-so-distant past? It was a beautiful way to see how much it meant to her that each person was there that night, whether they were on the barricade or in the back by the bar.
Of course, a fantastic show needs an amazing opener. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter, Georgia Webster kicked off the night. Her voice was beautiful as she serenaded the crowd with her country pop songs. Her song “Tell Your Mom” went viral on TikTok in 2020 and fans sang the words along with her. She brought amazing energy to the stage. This newcomer definitely walked away with more fans than she came in with.