Vince Gill launches Four-Night Ryman Residency with marathon set

by Annie Reuter

9 m ago

Vince GillThe marathon set at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Thursday proved why he will be celebrated on the CMT series”CMT GIANTS.” The singer’s nearly four-hour show spanned his vast catalog of hits and musical influences, while highlighting his vulnerabilities and humor. The concert was part of the Country Music Hall of Famer’s 2022 trek, which marks the first time Gill has toured with his band for three years as he has been on the road with the Eagles since 2017.

In between telling candid and comedic stories about his life and career, Gill performed more than 30 songs with his all-star band. The band includes “The Voice” season 21 runner-up Wendy Moten, who announced Gill’s latest career achievement during her mesmerizing five-song set.

“Mr. Vince Gill will very soon be honored in September by ‘CMT: GIANTS,'” Moten said. “It’s a big deal. Only five other icons have held this honor. They’re going to celebrate his legacy, they’re going to celebrate his music, his life in country music. … He deserved it! It will be the greatest artists of all time performing Vince Gill’s songs. The guests are heavy hitters. The band will be there too and all they do is win awards every year.”

Thursday’s Ryman performance was just a glimpse of Gill’s massive catalog and a preview of the upcoming TV special, which premieres on Friday, September. 16 on CMT. During the evening, Gill was backed by a band that featured frequent collaborator and award-winning steel player Paul Franklin along with renowned Nashville studio musicians including guitarist Jedd Hughes, drummer Billy Thomas, bassist Jimmie Lee Sloas and keyboardist John Jarvis. Guitarist Jack Schneider and singers Moten and Gill’s daughter Corrina Grant Gill rounded out the eight-member ensemble.

Gill launched his first of four back-to-back performances at the Ryman with No. 1 songs “One More Last Chance,” “Tryin’ to Get Over You,” “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away” and ” I Still Believe In You.” He joked that it was a collection of songs “that allowed me to buy a house I can no longer afford to live in.”

“Then came that Amy Grant girl, saved my ass!” He continued. “My bride Amy is fine. She had a bike wreck last Wednesday over at Percy Warner Park and thank God she had her helmet on. She was knocked unconscious for 10 or 15 minutes.”

The Ryman gig was Gill’s first time back on stage since Grant’s cycling accident, and his and his daughter’s emotions were palpable. He introduced the enchanting ballad “Whenever You Come Around” as “My favorite song to sing about my favorite girl.” Later, he would focus on Corrina for “When My Amy Prays”. She changed the lyrics to “When My Mama Prays” and choked back tears during the powerful performance, which drew a standing ovation.

Gill’s set spanned his musical influences. His love of bluegrass was on display on “High Lonesome Sound,” as was his appreciation of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens with standout covers of “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “Together Again,” both featured on his 2013 Bakersfield album with Franklin . “You have to know where you came from to never know where the hell you’re going,” Gill said.

He also performed his first co-write with Whisperin’ Bill Anderson on the pensive “Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn)” as well as shared one of the many life lessons he learned while writing “Look At Us” with Max T Barnes.

“If we didn’t have people teaching us how to do this, it wouldn’t continue,” commented Gill. “We have to learn our own way, play our own way, figure out how to keep it going.”

Gill’s set included several new songs he wrote during the pandemic. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer captivated as he told the stories behind each one. The powerful story songs covered love and loss from the perspective of a parent whose child went to war with “When a Soldier Dies” and the poignant “Benny’s Song,” which Gill wrote after the death of his oldest friend Benny in 2020.

“It’s hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable sometimes, but it means the most when you are,” he said.

Additional highlights included “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” a song he dedicated to his late brother, fan favorite “When I Call Your Name,” and the smash closer “Liza Jane.” Gill’s first of four nights at the Ryman Auditorium exemplified his “GIANTS” status as the singer’s marathon set showcased his many hits as well as his power as a comedic and thoughtful frontman. Throughout, Gill’s concert displayed his unwavering passion for music.

“I’ve been doing this professionally for 50 years,” Gill said. “When I was 15 years old, somebody said they’d pay me a little bit of money to come and play at their beer bar, and I haven’t stopped since. … What I know—without a doubt—if I never had any success, I’d still be playing a Holiday Inn bar six nights a week. I love music so much.”

Gill’s tour continues tonight at the Ryman Auditorium. “CMT GIANTS: Vince Gill” premieres Friday, Sept. 16, on CMT. Previous artists featured in the franchise include Reba McEntire (2006), Hank Williams, Jr. (2007), Alan Jackson (2008), Kenny Rogers (2020) and Charley Pride (2021).

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