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Sunday, September 25, 2022
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Ricky Montgomery lives to be live

The Majestic Theater turns upside down during a stellar show — or maybe he’s just doing another flip.

 The energy at the Majestic Theater was palpable the moment I stepped in. Even before the curtain rose, the boisterous crowd had fun with each other. They cheered on the Majestic’s Shrek Rave advertisements and yelled their approval — or lack thereof — of one lucky audience member’s Tinder options.

When opener Delaney Bailey entered the stage, the crowd quieted, holding a silence that the singer’s soft, romantic voice flourished in. Bailey captivated the venue with performances of “Love Letter From The Sea to The Shore,” “j’s lullaby” and even a handful of unreleased new songs. 

I have a feeling Madison will remain a positive memory for the artist. Beyond simply being memorable as a city on her first ever tour, Bailey joked that Madison is home to what she called “the best pizza [she’s] ever had.” She referred to a place “around the corner from [the Majestic]” that starts with the letter L, perhaps alluding to Lucille’s.

For anyone in the mood for poignant ballads about love and heartache, Bailey’s music provides a beautifully written outlet to sob along with.

After a relatively short set change, Ricky Montgomery burst onto the stage. His neon orange jacket encapsulated the frenzied energy of the performer; Montgomery is a storm of enthusiasm that electrifies even the most introverted concert goer. 

Montgomery’s debut album “Montgomery Ricky” was not a commercial success until four years after its release. In the midst of 2020’s pandemic lockdown, Montgomery’s album gained large-scale popularity thanks to a handful of viral TikTok sounds. Six years later, he has two songs certified gold and almost one billion total streams on Spotify.

Opening with their 2021 song “Talk to You,” it took no more than the first few notes to see Montgomery had the crowd in the palm of his hand. 

The audience seemed to respond to Montgomery on command, singing along to every lyric and even singing into the mic when he raised it to the crowd. Fans showered Montgomery with gifts, including a hand portrait and a pair of colorful sunglasses. They screamed acclamations of love and adoration all night long.

Montgomery is a showman in every sense of the word. He bounced around the stage — sometimes enthusiastically jumping to the beat, other times striking cymbals with dynamic spin moves and interacting with the crowd between lyrics.

The setlist was a combination of his solo work and songs from his band The Honeysticks. Montgomery performed both his most popular songs like “Line Without a Hook” and more exclusive ones like a reworked edition of his older song “Out Like a Light 2.” 

Similar to Bailey earlier in the night, Montgomery performed an unreleased single. I won’t spoil anything, but “Type A” will be a great single for any playlist. 

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Some personal highlights of the night include Montgomery’s cover of the beloved Weezer classic “The Sweater Song,” the impressively designed stage lighting and the guitarist Kyle Moore.

Moore accompanied Bailey on both piano and guitar during the opening set and then returned on stage later to play alongside Montgomery. He was a true hero of the night.

To end the night, Montgomery played a duo of fan-favorite songs from his original album. 

During the final chorus of the first of these “This December,” Montgomery rallied the crowd to jump around. The audience more than enthusiastically obliged. 

Then “Mr. Loverman,” perhaps his most famous song, was an ideal ending… but it wasn’t enough. Montgomery ended the show with cartwheels and somersaults across the stage. 

As someone who previously had a limited knowledge of Montgomery’s discography — most of which was from social media — I had a pretty great night. Underneath catchy pop melodies lies strong lyricism relating to Montgomery’s family and childhood. The only downside of the night was that I was stuck on the balcony with a mediocre view.

Overall, the show highlighted Montgomery’s skills as a performer. He has the talent of balancing humorous engagement with the audience while remaining vigilant to their needs. Rarely does an artist have the awareness to cameo in a random person’s BeReal in between songs or pause the show to check in on an audience member’s wellbeing, but Montgomery did both in the same night.

To put it simply, Ricky Montgomery is a uniquely talented singer-songwriter who puts on a fun and entertaining concert. I’d recommend anyone to see him at his best: live on stage. 

Ricky Montgomery continues his U.S. tour throughout the fall, ending this November. Montgomery will go on to tour Europe and the United Kingdom supporting mxmtoon and Cavetown, respectively.

Final Grade: A-

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