20190720_liv_review

Country star Chris Stapleton performs at the CHI Health Center Omaha on Friday night.

Chris Stapleton doesn’t seem to do a whole lot.

He doesn’t dance across the stage like his collaborator Justin Timberlake. He doesn’t have a flashy stage, pyrotechnics or a light show. (In fact, he hasn’t updated his stage set in years.) He doesn’t toss beers to the crowd or have a bar onstage or sit on the tailgate of a truck like other country stars, some of whom he’s written for.

Nope. Stapleton stands behind a singular microphone. He strums. He picks. He sings.

But boy does he do all of that very, very well. With style. With feeling. With absolute fire and power.

With his cowboy hat pulled down low, his face (and beard) in shadow, Stapleton doesn’t need flashy pomp to keep you engaged. He’s got the songs, the chops and the voice — oh, that voice — to hold your attention.

And he did so Friday night, holding the collective gaze of more than 13,500 fans in Omaha for about two hours at a sold-out CHI Health Center.

“Oh man! I’m talking about Omaha, Nebraska, tonight,” Stapleton said. “This is where it’s at, Jack, tonight for sure.”

They hung with him through old songs, some as far back as his Jompson Brothers days, and even a couple of as-yet-unrecorded songs.

The first, “Minimum Wage,” was written with Michael Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and sounded like an old Petty B-side about not making enough money. The next, “The Bad Side of the Blood,” was about being a sinner in a family full of saints.

During all the old favorites such as “Tennessee Whiskey,” “Millionaire,” “Might As Well Get Stoned” and “Fire Away,” it felt like a living room full of old fans who knew every word. The arena buzzed with voices as everyone sang along.

“You sound so good!” Stapleton said. “We got singers here in Omaha.”

Stapleton then played the chorus to “Fire Away” one more time just to hear the crowd sing it again.

Writing killer songs and belting them out like a soul singer aren’t his only talents. Stapleton also often played lead guitar, which isn’t something most frontmen can tackle. But he did it without much effort, licking solos on “Devil Named Music” and “Might As Well Get Stoned.”

“Thank y’all so much for being with us tonight. This is the fourth show this year, and you guys have made it so wonderful for us, it’s gonna make it hard to leave,” he said.

It was, at once, exciting, fresh and new while also old and familiar.

And that’s Stapleton’s talent. Some songs, like “Broken Halos” and “Traveler,” sound like you’ve known them all your life. When they ring out in the arena, you can’t help but sing along.

Stapleton was smiling and laughing at the audience’s reactions as they danced and sang and shouted their praise

“I love you. Thank you for being with us tonight,” Stapleton said. “Y’all make me feel so good. That’s for sure.”