The legend of the Pistol Annies has only grown over the five years since they last released an album, but the trio managed to live up to expectations at the Ryman Auditorium on Thursday night (Oct. 25).

Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe packed as many old and new cuts from their three-album catalog as they could into 75 well-rehearsed minutes of country music. The attitude, the talent, the charm, the quiet shading of ex-lovers ... it was all on display, and this sold-out crowd was here for it.

This was one of those shows where the audience's zeal became a part of the action. Aside from one singular moment we'll get to shortly, there was a rare, rising fervor that created pockets of frenzy throughout the balcony and lower bowl. At any given moment, a fan would stand and shout for reasons only clear to herself. By the end of the show, the enthusiasm had morphed into a low rumble that could have boiled over had the group returned with a more engaging encore or the right special guest.

That they didn't did nothing to tarnish this night. "Sugar Daddy," a song from Pistol Annies' new Interstate Gospel album (Nov. 2), opened the show before "I Feel a Sin Comin' On" from Annie Up (2013) and then "Bad Example" from the 2011 debut. That set the tone for a night that would focus on more than just their next project. Fans appreciated hearing six new songs, but 30 percent new is plenty.

They played the hits — and by "hits," we mean songs their audience had been listening to repeatedly in the last 5 or so years. "We hope to set a very bad example for you tonight," Lambert declared as the show picked up.

"Lemon Drop" and "Hush Hush" followed before "Cheyenne," a delicate new ballad from the new project, was interrupted by an overzealous fan. The young woman just wouldn't leave her perch at the front of the stage, despite two security guards and even Lambert's insistence that she not take their spotlight.

"I'm not gonna have you stealing our show tonight, honey, you're gonna have to go sit down," Lambert remarked, to the delight of the audience. Only Lone Star Annie could get away with what happened next. Exasperated by how long it was taking for the woman to clear out, the singer unhooked her guitar, handed it to Presley, bent down and personally escorted her out of there by the hand.

A cover of Elvis Presley's "Love Me" was surprising, but if you aren't intimately familiar with Pistol Annies' catalog, you could have assumed it was just another Interstate Gospel cut. The night's second best moment was "I Got My Name Changed Back." Lambert literally put on gloves (to play a washboard with, but still — she suited up) to sing a song about an ex-husband, and when Presley indicated the track was not about any of them on stage, Lambert admitted, "She's full of s--t". The song is short, vibrant, sassy and a potential shot of adrenaline to any radio station playlist.

The very pregnant Presley and Monroe were spotlighted equally as vocalists, but what's remarkable about the Pistol Annies is how well three soloists meld into one supportive unit in concert. There's not this sense that they're taking turns, with the other two pantomiming as the third takes lead. Monroe was sublime during "Dear Sobriety" and "I Hope You're the End of My Story," her wedding song as it turns out, and the show closer. Presley shined during "Lemon Drop" and "The Hunter's Wife," two older songs inspired by her hard-scrabble adulthood.

Pistol Annies have just three shows scheduled to promote Interstate Gospel, and they're doing very little media, which is a bummer because the trio is endlessly entertaining. This foaming fanbase will support them eternally, and maybe there is something to the adage that you need to keep 'em wanting more. Perhaps 2019 will bring a more generous touring schedule.

Pistol Annies' Ryman Auditorium Set List:

1. "Sugar Daddy"
2. "I Feel a Sin Comin' On"
3. "Bad Example"
4. "Lemon Drop"
5. "Hush Hush"
6. "Cheyenne"
7. "Unhappily Married"
8. "Trailer for Rent"
9. "Hunter's Wife"
10. "Dear Sobriety"
11. "Damn Thing"
12. "Love Me" (Elvis Presley Cover)
13. "Milkman"
14. "Girls Like Us"
15. "Interstate Gospel"
16. "Best Years of My Life"
17. "Got My Name Changed Back"
18. "Takin' Pills"
19. "Hell on Heels"
20. "I Hope You're the End of My Story (Encore)

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