Kip Moore lost track of time on Friday night (Feb. 12) at the Ryman Auditorium, and he says it's going to cost him. Those able to experience the show in person may be eager to chip in.

When he returned for an encore to cap his acoustic set, he admitted he'd just asked his tour manager how they were doing on time. For whatever reason, he was limited to 90 minutes, but wasn't wearing in-ear monitors to hear stage cues as he normally would. The show had passed two hours, and one figures the 600 or so rowdy fans in front of him would have stayed for another two. The fine, it seems, is the same regardless at this point.

Ironically, the crowd had become an unexpected distraction. Fans in masks were scattered about the two-tier former church for the show, but with so few of them allowed in the venue, there was no soft-bodied hum to swallow the occasional screamer. So Moore — and viewers like this writer, watching at home on the live stream — heard every interruption, especially those that broke the singer's concentration as they rattled off the wooden pews.

The pandemic and a long holiday break have kept Moore off stages for about as long as he could remember, and he admitted to an unusual nervousness when the night began with just him and an acoustic guitar on a wooden stool. Wearing jeans, a black t-shirt and signs of good rest (ponytail, deep tan etc ...), the "She's Mine" singer quickly rose up to his audience's mid-show level of enthusiasm. By his third song ("Dirt Road") the band had joined him and they were off on a journey across his four albums, played chronologically.

This greatest hits-style setlist created a new experience for those watching. Moore wasn't curating an emotional journey through his music, often responding to the room, as he usually does. Instead, he shared personal anecdotes or the mood behind writing songs like "That Was Us." Of "Last Shot," he recalled how the meaning changed for him as it became a hit, and spent a significant amount of time reflecting on his relationship with his late father. Even the rowdies in the front few rows stayed quiet as he spoke of how much he misses him and how much Dad would have enjoyed being on the road with him. Later he'd pour that into a song called "Payin' Hard" that includes one of the best 21st-century country lyrics.

"My life's a credit card / Play now, pay later / And I'm paying hard," he sings.

With the release of the deluxe version of Wild World coming on the same day, it was fitting that his most recent album dominated. Nine of the 13 original tracks made the list, plus a new one called "How High." Ashley McBryde was a welcome guest for "Janie Blu," which began with Moore sharing how close the two had become in recent years. They're cut from similar cloth, or at least share a sense of humor. As he did several times on Friday, the 40-year-old singer rocked way back with laughter when she shared the only three things she needed to join him: to know where to park, where to pee and when to sing.

Kip Moore Ashley McBryde
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

With just a day or two to rehearse and such a long break between shows, there were a few mishaps and even some rust to shake off, but on an individual level, Moore's band showcased their talents in subtle and spotlight ways. Bassist Manny Medina locked down songs like "Sweet Virginia," while two guitarists brought "Complicated" to a close with as frantic of an acoustic solo break as you'll find on country music stages.

"Magic," an album cut from Wild Ones, closed the show, which was as much of a surprise as "Hey Pretty Girl" not making the set at all. As so many artists tend to do, Moore created something unique for his opportunity to play the Ryman Auditorium, a cherished venue in Nashville. It's a night that comes with nerves, and during the pandemic, many singers have struggled with a scattered audience that isn't able to provide nourishing energy. At least twice, Moore indicated that was what he prepared for, so when the opposite proved true, it literally cost him.

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