Kelsea Ballerini has come into her own as a headliner and her HEARTFIRST Tour proved it.
The ACM and CMA Award winner brought her headlining trek to The Met in Philadelphia on Thursday (Oct. 13) for an evening of hits and musical therapy. The 90-minute show was a celebration of her career thus far and her new album, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
After Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” flooded the venue’s speakers, an audio message from Ballerini that detailed her growth as a person and the inspiration behind the album played for the crowd.
“In my younger years, the idea of change scared me. It had proven to be a faceless force that patterned my past with uncertainty,” she admitted in the message.
“Only in the gift of growth have I learned that in the stark and constant juxtaposition of life, living happens — that when I unclench my fists, undig my heels, and unravel the architecture built by youth, a true metamorphosis can happen,” Ballerini went on to say. “I’ve been searching somewhere between the broadness of the universe, and the simplicity in the little things, reflecting through wiser perspectives, leaning with body weight into matters of the heart, and finding blissful acceptance in the inner cracks I once cursed, but now let the light in to grow taller within myself. This is a season of becoming, healing, loving, dancing, and feeling. And like everything, it is subject to change.”
The country superstar then made her grand entrance to the stage just before 9PM to the deafening screams of the near capacity audience. Wearing a yellow ruffled high-low halter dress paired with matching knee-high boots, the songstress appeared on the stage to the title track of her latest album, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
The East Tennessee native’s 21-song set list included 12 of the 15 tracks from her fourth studio album, including “SUBJECT TO CHANGE,” “THE LITTLE THINGS,” “HEARTFIRST,” “LOVE IS A COWBOY,” “IF YOU GO DOWN (I’M GOIN’ DOWN TOO),” “YOU’RE DRUNK, GO HOME,” “UNIVERSE,” “WEATHER,” “I GUESS THEY CALL IT FALLIN’,” “WHAT I HAVE,” “MUSCLE MEMORY,” AND “DOIN’ MY BEST.”
In addition, Ballerini also performed several fan-favorite hits such as “Peter Pan,” “Miss Me More,” “Hole In The Bottle,” as well as a fan-picked song, which was the self-penned tune “The First Time” from her debut album of the same name. The GRAMMY-nominee also performed a beautiful cover of The Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away.”
Ballerini truly brought all of her songs to life in a way fans have never seen before with an arena-ready production that included colorful visuals and bright lighting for each song in the set.
She also dazzled with several outfit changes, sporting a stunning array of one-of-a-kind costumes, each of which were complete with sparkles.
The show, which marked the second to last night of the tour, was a special one for Ballerini as her dad flew in from Knoxville to attend the show. She dedicated her performance of “Half Of My Hometown” to her father and even paused for a moment during the song to take it all in as fans sang every word to the chart-topping hit.
It’s clear that Ballerini has a special connection to her fans. She interacted with them throughout the entire evening by reading their homemade signs and taking selfies. At one point, she even made a Be Real with someone in the audience.
Ballerini went through a range of emotions throughout the show and showcased her gratitude for her loyal fans’ support.
“I want to let you know that it not only does it mean the world to me and my band that you showed up tonight because it gives us a job, but it also lets me share music that I just pour my life into, my whole life, my entire life and that means so much,” Ballerini shared. “I also want to tell you that $1 of every ticket goes to the Feel Your Way Through Fund, which goes to organizations that help get the mental health tools to people that need them.”
Before singing “What I Have,” Ballerini shared how she used to be afraid of change and how she’s learned to embrace it now as she has found herself and is truly happy with what she has in life.
“I want to say that I was really nervous for this tour for a lot of reason mainly because my life is chaos right and that’s somehow everyone’s not just mine. This is the second to last show and so I can say with full transparency and full certainty that I have never so safe and so loved than I have on this tour. I mean it so deeply you don’t even know,” Ballerini sincerely shared from the stage.
”This record bookmarks the last two years of my life and you hear so much of my life like growing up, and the idea of the title Subject To Change and the song and the whole record is just like I’ve been so scared of change my whole life and I’m learning now maybe just maybe change is the point. You’re supposed to grow, you’re supposed to evolved and also it’s inevitable. So like when you’re resistant you’re not letting yourself live your full life and the fear of change has just taking up so much space in me and I as I embrace it slowly but surely I am so much more present in my life and I’m learning how to be happy. All of that to say, it is moments like this tonight and I say this every night and it’s because I fully mean it every night that I am so grateful for what I have.”
She concluded her set with a sassy performance of “Miss Me More” and a massive dance party and sing-along to “DOIN’ MY BEST.”
Georgia Webster provided direct support, with a set that included “I Hate Phone Calls (Long Distance Sucks),” “X’s,” and her breakout release, “Tell Your Mom.” Her infectious personality was refreshing, and her stage presence was thoroughly impressive for an artist at this stage in their career.
Kelsea Ballerini’s HEARTFIRST Tour may be over, but the country hitmaker recently hinted that more tour dates may be on the horizon.