The Ryman is legendary for many reasons. Acts such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Will Rogers, and Dolly Parton have graced the Mother Church of Country Music’s stage and delivered incredible performances worth writing down in the history books. On November 7th, Elle King joined this list of historic artists and delivered a performance no one will be forgetting any time.
The show was off to a grand start as Elle King immediately dived in to her blues-rock hit, “Last Damn Night.” The song’s carefree and party attitude was only a hint at what was to come. After jamming out to this great tune, Elle King did something I wasn’t expecting. She grabbed a banjo, shared a story about the means girls that inspired the next song, and played “Good for Nothin’ Woman.” I was impressed. For one, I didn’t realize that Elle King played the banjo. But also, it was amazing how she brought in a classic country music instrument and played it with her blues style. Elle King’s musicality and the way her music seemed to transcend labels and genres only made her performance all the more unique and astounding.
Something I loved about Elle King was how she explained the story behind every song. She confided with us that “Good to be a Man” is about the only time she’s been dumped and good thing the guy broke up with her because that song got her first record deal. She told stories about her parents before “Kocaine Karolina” and “Song of Sorrow.” Before her new song, “Speaking in Tongues,” she told an elaborate story about a witch she met who gave her a personalized necklace. She made the crowd feel like they were her confidants, her best friends, as she revealed all of these personal and private stories from her life.
After playing “Ain’t Gonna Drown,” Elle King donned on a long white coat and brought two fans up on the stage. A scene that was very fitting considering the venue we were in, she married the couple and then invited them to do their first dance on the stage while she sang a rendition of the Beatles “Oh! Darling.” It was a sweet and heartfelt moment and the crowd swayed and sang along.
Elle King then dived into her most famous hit, “Ex’s & Oh’s” which had the whole auditorium jumping and singing along. Afterwards, she walked off stage, but luckily the crowd’s cheers convinced her to come back on for two more songs. She brought out her friend Dierks Bentley for the first song in her encore. However, instead of playing the duo’s hit, “Different for Girls,” the two jumped into Johnny Cash’s “Jackson.” Once Dierks Bentley left the stage, Elle King sang her final song, “America’s Sweetheart.”
Overall, it was an incredible show. Elle King’s backdrop was a banner that said “Good Times” on a banner wrapped around an Ed Hardy styled heart and the letters E and K on either side. This banner was absolutely, one hundred percent accurate because I most certainly had a grand time with Elle King at the Mother Church of Country Music. As she told us, Elle King may not be America’s Sweetheart, but we most certainly love her anyway and hope she decides to visit Nashville again soon.