LIVE: Carly Pearce “The 29 Tour” @ The Egg, 03/19/2022

Reigning ACM and CMA Female Artist of the Year Carly Pearce brought her “The 29 Tour” to Albany on Saturday night, selling out the Hart Theater at The Egg. Touring in support of her third major label release 29: Written in Stone, Pearce played the record from start to finish.

The fifteen tracks from the album were all written by Pearce. The songs are all incredibly personal, dealing with her divorce and the death of her close friend and producer Busbee. While the songs are personal, they touch on universal themes like love, loss, betrayal, grief, anger, redemption, hope, and grace. By sharing her story with her fans, she gave them an outlet for their own heartbreaks and the show seemed to serve as a group therapy session for many in the audience. They see themselves in her songs and they let her know it. Two women held up a sign about how they were both cheated on by the same man. Pearce not only acknowledged the sign, but she also invited them to the stage for a photo. There were dozens of other signs as well. People came to sing along and to exorcise their own demons. Rarely have I seen a concert that seemed so cathartic. Pearce wears her heart firmly on her sleeve and I think it is what makes her so appealing. She didn’t duck and run when heartbreak happened. She squared up and fought it with all her might. She took it and wrote anthems for others.

On a night full of high points it is hard to pick just one or two. Songs like “Next Girl” and “29” went over really well. A mid-set duet with opener Hannah Ellis on Pearce’s recent single “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” was a barn burner. A stripped-down “Show Me Around” was dedicated to Busbee. Pearce appeared close to tears speaking about her friend. By the end of the song, there weren’t many dry eyes in the theater. She closed her main set with the final track from the record, “Mean It This Time.” While the other songs may be about losing love, this one is about the hope for a love to come. The album’s title comes from this track, with the lyric “when I say forever, I’m gonna write it in stone.”

She returned to the stage for a three-song encore. Her first number-one single “Every Little Thing” segued into an unplugged “Hide the Wine.” She brought the crowd to their feet for the final song “I Hope You’re Happy Now.” The song, co-written with Luke Combs, was the perfect punctuation mark on an impressive night of music. The fans sang along on the top of their lungs, loving every minute of it. She assured fans that she IS happy now, adding “I’m not bitter… I am pissed.”

Opener Hannah Ellis played a spirited set of originals and covers. A surprise cover of the 1996 hit “No Diggity” had the crowd grooving along with her. Ellis may be the only artist to ever cover both Shania Twain and Blackstreet in the same set. It just worked. As I say regularly in almost every review that I write, get to the venue early. Catch the opening acts. Thank me later.

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